Late-ripening tomatoes

vincristineSeptember 3, 2011

I'm a first-time gardener, living in Ohio and had a bad time earlier this year with a month solid of rain, then record heat, and in between deer eating the green tomatoes off my plants and cropping the top off my determinate (generic patio tomato). I put up a fence and now FINALLY have Brandywine tomatoes ripening and Cherokee tomatoes maybe ripening? The determinate ended up very short but loaded with tomatoes that are still plain green.

I'm visiting family and want to take some tomatoes so I'm going to pick the ripening Brandywines, but I'm not sure if it's safe to pick the Cherokee purples. About a week ago the tops started to turn a darker shade of purple/green, but the bottoms are still the same light green. Does it count as beginning to ripen when the tops darken, or do I need to wait until I see red showing?

Also, it seems awfully late in the season to me. All of the plants still have a bunch of green tomatoes. Are odds good that most of these will ripen before freezing?

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

See these threads re. saving green tomatoes at the end of the season, in case of impending hurricane, or when visiting relatives:


Here are two versions of a chart which illustrates what digdirt was alluding to (in the second link above) about the breaker stage.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 1:24AM
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So Cherokee purples don't count as breaking until they start getting pink, even if the tops have already gotten darker?

I picked the partially pink Brandywines, they're a bit homely (cracking and not all ripe yet) but I'm hopeful.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 2:20PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

They wouldn't have to get pink, but could be showing definite yellow on the blossom-end; the important thing is that the color changes there.

Re. dark shoulders: I don't have enough experience with CP (the only time I grew them, Late Blight got them before fruit were ripe), but my Black Krims darken their shoulders well before the bottoms begin turning their weird breaking color. So I don't think the dark shoulders are an indication of impending "breaking" color. (But hopefully someone with more experience than I have will offer an opinion.)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 6:19PM
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vincristine, I hope you don't make the mistake I did and pick the Brandywines too late. Have you cut one open yet? I picked one when it was a light pink color. It seemed to be ripe but I waited for the next ones to get a darker color and they all were rotting and molding. I know there are different varieties but I would check one.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 9:17PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

The fruits of many varieties have dark green shoulders even when ripe, it's normal. Cherokee Purple, Indian Stripe and many other dark colored varieties are examples, and there are fruits of many other colored varieties that also normally have those dark green shoulders.

It's due to what's called the uniform ripening gene. If a variety has it the fruits will ripen up to the stem, if not, you get green shoulders. many heirloom varieties have that gene normally, and many don't.

The gene is bred into almost all modern hybrid varieties so they do ripen up without green shoulders.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 7:23AM
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Hi I had the same problem with Irene.Lots of rain and wind after the storm passed I picked 20 or so green tomatoes as the plants were broken I then put the green ones in my kitchen in the dark area on there tops and they are ripening! as far as taste better than store bought!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 8:49AM
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Before Irene came I picked the largest tomato's in my garden. If they had a good amount of color I just turned them up side down on a tray and put them in my kitchen in the darkest place. For the rest w/out color I got a lg. paper bag and put them in there,not touching,and put them in a dark place, these have to be checked daily. In fact all need to be checked and most do ripen for me.

I also do this at the end of the season if there are a lot of tomato's still on the vines before clean up. You have to check the bags because if one rots you have to throw it away,right away.

I have had good luck doing this for years,but you have to keep on top of it. As far as taste not really any different, so much better than store bought.

Don't think this yr. I'm going to have that many left as I had the worst tomato yr. ever!


    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 1:42PM
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