When and how to pick tomatoes (probably not when you think)?


When a tomato is fully ripe, it will have a consistent color across the entire fruit, whether it is red, yellow, or another color. The tomato will also have a slightly soft texture and give when gently squeezed. Be careful not to squeeze too hard.

To pick a tomato, grasp the fruit gently but firmly and give it a slight twist. If you are harvesting a lot of tomatoes, use a pair of pruning shears to cut the fruit from the stem to prevent damaging the plant.

Picking tomatoes at the right time will ensure that they have the best flavor and texture and will provide the most enjoyment for you and your family.

In this article, we will discuss the best harvesting time, how to harvest them, and picking tomatoes on the vine. Let’s start!

Best time to pick tomatoes

Best time to pick tomatoes

What Is The Best Time To Pick?

You should pick a tomato when it is fully ripe, meaning it has reached its mature color and has a slightly soft texture. A ripe tomato should have a consistent color and give slightly when gently squeezed.

How should you know when it’s best to pick a tomato?

If you know the weather forecast, such as for cold weather or frost, or if you have unripe green tomatoes on the vine, you can pick them before the frost and ripen them inside.

Be careful to avoid tomatoes that are still green and have not ripened, because once they are picked from the plant, they will not ripen again. That’s how you can enjoy your delicious and juicy tomatoes.

What is Early Harvesting and Late Harvesting Tomatoes?


Early harvest tomatoes protect from damages

Early harvesting refers to the practice of harvesting crops or fruits before they reach full maturity. This can be done for a variety of reasons, such as to obtain higher yields, reduce the risk of damage from pests or weather, or take advantage of market opportunities.

The timing of early harvesting depends on the specific crop and its growth cycle. For example, some crops may be harvested early when they are still green and unripe, while others may be harvested when they are partially ripe or just before they reach full maturity.

Late harvesting is the process of leaving crops in the field longer than usual so they can grow to full maturity before being picked. This can be done for several reasons, such as to increase yields, improve flavor or nutrient content, or allow crops to reach a specific stage of ripeness required for certain processing methods.

For example, some grape growers may choose to wait to pick their grapes until they have more sugar and flavor. This makes for better wine. In the same way, some farmers may wait to pick their vegetables until they are bigger or have reached a more mature stage of growth.

Late harvests

When To Pick Tomatoes?

Tomatoes should be allowed to ripen fully on the vine before they are picked. However, the ripeness of the tomato depends on the variety.

Cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes, for example, are ready to be picked when they are fully colored, whether that’s red, yellow, green, or purple. The ideal time to pick these tomatoes is when the bottom of the fruit changes from green to a pale yellowish color.

Larger tomatoes, such as beefsteak tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes, may still have a slight greenish tint even when they are fully ripe. These tomatoes should be allowed to fully ripen on the vine until they are slightly soft to the touch.

It’s important to note that picking tomatoes too early can affect their flavor and texture. Tomatoes that are picked before they are fully ripe may be bitter and lack sweetness. They may also be hard and not have the juicy texture that ripe tomatoes have.

When to Pick Tomatoes Off the Vine?

When picking tomatoes, it’s important to handle them with care. Tomatoes are delicate fruits and can bruise easily. To harvest tomatoes, gently twist them off the vine. If the tomato does not come off easily, it’s not yet ripe and should be left on the vine for a few more days.

If you have a lot of tomatoes to pick, it’s a good idea to use a pair of pruning shears or scissors to cut the stem instead of pulling the tomato off the vine. This will prevent damage to the plant and reduce the risk of disease.

When To Pick Tomatoes On The Vine?

When picking tomatoes that are still on the vine, it is important to ensure that they are fully ripe before harvesting them. To determine if a tomato is ripe, look for a mature color and a slightly soft texture.

To pick the tomato, gently grasp it and give it a slight twist to detach it from the stem. Be careful not to squeeze the tomato too hard, as this can damage the fruit. It’s also important to avoid picking tomatoes when they are still green, as they won’t ripen properly off the vine

How To Pick Tomatoes?

To pick the perfect tomato, look for a fruit that has reached its mature color and has a slightly soft texture. This indicates that the tomato is fully ripe and at the peak of its flavor and nutrition.

When picking the tomato, gently grasp it using your soft hands and give it a slight twist to detach it from the stem. Be careful not to squeeze it too hard, as this can damage your tomatoes.

Avoid picking tomatoes that are still green, as they won’t ripen properly off the vine. Leave these tomatoes for 3 to 4 days to fully ripen, then pick them up after a few days. By using these, you’ll be able to pick the juiciest, most flavorful, and most nutrient-packed tomatoes.

How To Store Tomatoes After Picking?

If you store tomatoes the right way after you pick them, you can extend their shelf life and keep their quality. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Sort through your tomatoes and discard any that are overripe, damaged.
  • Do not wash the tomatoes before storing, as excess moisture can lead to spoilage.
  • Choose a cool, dry location for storage, such as a pantry or cellar. Avoid storing tomatoes in the refrigerator
  • If storing tomatoes on a shelf, arrange them in a single layer, with the stem-side facing up.
  • If you have a large quantity of tomatoes to store, you can also store them in a cardboard box or a shallow tray, with layers of newspaper.
  • Check on your tomatoes periodically and remove those tomatoes that are spoiled, to prevent the spread of rot to other tomatoes.

By following these steps, you can help keep your picked tomatoes fresh and delicious for several days to a few weeks.

Tips For Growing and Caring Tomato Plant

Sure, here are some tips for growing and caring for tomato plants:

  • Choose a sunny location:

Tomatoes thrive in full sun, so choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

  • Soil preparation:

Add compost or other organic matter to the soil before you plant to make it better and help it drain. The ideal soil pH for tomatoes is between 6.0 and 6.8.

  • Planting:

Plant tomato seedlings in the ground or in containers after the last frost date for your area. Space the plants 18 to 36 inches apart and bury them deeply, up to the first set of leaves, to encourage strong root development.

  • Watering:

Tomatoes need consistent moisture to thrive, so water them deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can increase the risk of disease.

  • Fertilizing:

Fertilize tomato plants with a balanced fertilizer every 3–4 weeks throughout the growing season.

  • Pruning:

To encourage larger fruit and better air circulation, prune the plants by removing the suckers that grow between the main stem and branches.

  • Mulching:

Mulch around the plants with straw, leaves, or other organic matter to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

  • Disease and pest control:

Keep an eye out for signs of common tomato pests and diseases, such as aphids, tomato hornworms, and fungal diseases like blight. Use organic pest control methods, such as companion planting or insecticidal soap, to minimize damage.

Common Tomato Picking Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Picking tomatoes too early: Tomatoes that are picked before they are fully ripe may not develop their full flavor and can be less juicy. Wait until the tomato is fully colored and slightly soft to the touch before picking.
  2. Pulling the tomato from the vine: Tomatoes should be gently twisted or cut from the vine to avoid damaging the plant and leaving open wounds that can be an entry point for disease.
  3. Mishandling the tomato: Tomatoes are delicate fruits and can bruise or crack easily. Handle them carefully and avoid dropping or squeezing them.
  4. Storing tomatoes improperly: Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, and not in the refrigerator. Storing tomatoes in the fridge can cause them to lose flavor and become mealy.
  5. Overlooking diseased or damaged fruit: Remove any tomatoes that show signs of rot, disease, or insect damage, as this can help prevent the spread of problems to other fruit.
  6. Harvesting too many tomatoes at once: It can be tempting to pick all the ripe tomatoes at once, but this can lead to a glut of fruit that can be difficult to use up. Instead, try to harvest tomatoes as they ripen, so you have a steady supply of fresh fruit throughout the season.


Picking tomatoes at the right time and in the right way is crucial to ensuring that you harvest fruits that are flavorful, nutritious, and in their best condition.

It’s important to wait until the tomatoes are fully ripe, meaning they have reached their mature color and have a slightly soft texture. It’s also important to avoid picking tomatoes when they are still green, as they won’t ripen properly once they’ve been removed from the vine.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to pick the perfect tomatoes that are ready to be enjoyed in your favorite recipes.

Thanks for reading!

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