why are my tomatoes not turning red
Beginner Gardening

Tomatoes Not Turning Red? Here’s What You Need to Know

Are you frustrated with your tomato plants not turning red? There are several factors that can contribute to this problem, but luckily, there are also several solutions. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why your tomatoes may not be ripening and provide tips for getting them to turn red.

This post is all about tomatoes not turning red.

One of the most common reasons for tomatoes not turning red is temperature. If the temperature is too hot or too cold, the tomatoes may not ripen properly. Ideally, the temperature range for ripening green tomatoes is between 68 and 77°F. Not to get all sciencey on you, but there is an explanation for why this happens. 

When temperatures reach over 85°F, the plants won’t produce lycopene and carotene, which are essential for the red color of the tomatoes. On the other hand, if the temperature drops below 50°F, the ripening process will slow down significantly or even stop altogether. Actually, it’s not good for tomatoes to be exposed to temps below 50. 

Another factor that can affect the ripening process is plant health. If the plant is stressed or diseased, it may not be able to produce enough energy to ripen the fruit. Overfeeding or underwatering can also cause stress to the plant, leading to slower ripening. By identifying the cause of the problem and taking the necessary steps to address it, you can ensure that your tomatoes turn red and are ready to be harvested.

Understanding Tomato Ripening

Tomatoes are one of the most popular fruits in the world, used in a variety of dishes and recipes. They are also easy to grow in home gardens, making them an all time favorite for gardeners. However, sometimes tomatoes don’t turn red/ Understanding the ripening process of tomatoes can help you get the most out of your garden.

Stages of Ripening

Tomatoes go through several stages of ripening before they are ready to be harvested. 

The first stage is the green stage, where the tomato is still growing and has not yet started to ripen.

The second stage is the breaker stage, where the tomato starts to show signs of ripening, such as a change in color from green to yellow or pink. Look for signs of the color changing.

The third stage is the turning stage, where the tomato is mostly red but still has some green areas. It’s actually ok to harvest your tomatoes at this stage. Off the plant, they’ll still continue to ripen.

The fourth and final stage is the ripe stage, where the tomato is fully red and ready to be harvested. 

You’ll also want to check the firmness of the tomato as well. Tomatoes that aren’t ripe will generally be harder, while ripe tomatoes are softer.

Why Are My Tomatoes Not Turning Red: Common Issues and Solutions

Now that we understand the ripening stages, let’s look at the most common reasons and solutions for your tomatoes not turning red.

Insufficient Light

Tomatoes need a lot of sunlight to ripen properly. If your plants are not getting enough sunlight, they may not turn red. Make sure your plants are getting at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If your plants are in a shady spot, try moving them to a sunnier location. Tomato plants that aren’t getting enough sun also are a bit more scraggly looking. They may not even get any fruit.

Nutrient Imbalances

Tomatoes require a balanced diet of nutrients to grow and ripen. If your soil is lacking in nutrients, your tomatoes may not turn red. Make sure your soil has the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can also add compost or fertilizer to your soil to give your plants a boost.

Every year I add cow manure to our garden and that’s it. Our soil was very depleted of nutrients and has been doing so well after adding cow manure. In one area of our yard, where we don’t grow any food but might one day, is extremely high in iron. So plants are a bit difficult to grow there.

Improper Temperatures

As mentioned before, tomatoes are sensitive to temperature changes, and extreme temperatures can prevent them from ripening. If it’s too hot or too cold, your tomatoes may not turn red. The ideal temperature range for ripening tomatoes is between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures are consistently outside of this range, your tomatoes may not ripen properly, if at all!

Genetic Factors

Some tomato varieties are simply slower to ripen than others. If you’ve tried everything else and your tomatoes still won’t turn red, it could be a genetic issue. Some tomato varieties take longer to ripen than others, so be patient and give your plants time to do their thing. Check all plant tags and seed packets. They’ll guide you as to how long to expect harvest time.

By addressing these common issues and solutions, you can help your tomatoes ripen properly and enjoy a tasty harvest.

Harvesting and Storage Tips

Getting the Timing Right

Harvesting your tomatoes at the right time is essential to ensure they turn red. You should wait until the tomatoes are fully mature and have reached their full size before harvesting them. Look for signs that the tomato is ready to be picked, such as a change in color from green to yellow or red, and firmness

When harvesting, it is important to handle the tomatoes carefully to avoid bruising or damaging them. Use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to cut the stem of the tomato. This will help to prevent the tomato from spoiling and will also make it easier to store.

[RELATED POST: Popular Question: When to Harvest Tomatoes]

Ethylene Exposure: How to Turn Green Tomatoes Red Indoors

Exposing your green tomatoes to ethylene gas can help to speed up the ripening process. Ethylene is a natural gas that is produced by many fruits, including apples and bananas. You can use this to your advantage by placing a ripe apple or banana in a paper bag with your green tomatoes. The ethylene gas produced by the fruit will help to trigger the ripening process and your tomatoes will turn red faster.

Note: this will only work if your tomatoes have already started to slightly change color. If they haven’t started to change and are still very green, this won’t work.

Ideal Storage Conditions

Storing your tomatoes in the right conditions can help to ensure that they ripen properly and stay fresh for longer. Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat. Don’t store them in the fridge as it alters the taste. If you have harvested your tomatoes before they are fully ripe, you can store them in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cellar, to allow them to ripen naturally.

It is also important to store your tomatoes properly to prevent them from getting bruised or damaged. You can store them in a single layer in a cardboard box or on a tray, with a layer of newspaper or paper towels between each layer to absorb any excess moisture. Avoid storing your tomatoes in plastic bags or containers, as this can trap moisture and cause them to spoil.

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