When Should Tomatoes Be Harvested? A Farmer's Guide

When Should Tomatoes Be Harvested? A Farmer's Guide
Tomatoes are healthy and delicious. They're also best-sellers at farmers' markets, so there's every reason to grow them. The only problem is, how do you know when they're ready to harvest? If you're new to growing tomatoes, it can be challenging to identify when to pick them. Luckily, there are some telltale signs you can learn to look for to always pick them at the perfect time. That's why we're here with a farmer’s guide to when tomatoes should be harvested.

Check the Color

There are key color stages to the development of tomatoes. There are six total stages, and they are:
  • 1: The green stage. The tomato is green inside and out.
  • 2: Breaker stage. There's a break in color from green to yellow/pinkish red. Only 10 percent of the surface has color.
  • 3: Turning stage. Almost 30 percent of the surface has a noticeable color change.
  • 4: Pink stage. More than 30 percent has changed color to red.
  • 5: Light red stage. 90 percent of the surface is now a light red.
  • 6: Red stage. That is the final stage, where 100 percent of the surface and inside is bright red.
So, at what stage should you pick your tomatoes? Well, all the experts say that the breaker stage is when it's time to harvest. Picking them at the breaker stage will save them from fruit cracking, sunscald, and more. It doesn't end there, though. You'll need to store them indoors at room temperature for a few weeks to let them ripen. Globe Bag Company has a selection of quality tomato boxes for sale so you can properly store your tomatoes until they’re ready for the market.

Check the Weight and Firmness

So, your tomato is changing color, but how do you know when it's suitable to eat? That's where the weight and firmness tests come into play. If they're very hard, then they need a few more days to ripen. The ideal firmness is slightly firm. Not squishy, but not totally stiff, either. Mushy tomatoes mean that they're over-ripened, so you should consume them as quickly as possible. A ripened tomato is also very dense. Unripe tomatoes are lighter as they haven't fully formed yet. So, how do you know when a tomato reaches the appropriate weight? Below is a handy test that you can incorporate to find out in a few minutes. All you need is a bucket of water that's big enough to fit tomatoes inside. Drop your tomato into the water. If it sinks straight down to the bottom, it's perfectly ripe and ready to eat! If it floats on top, it isn’t mature yet and still needs some time. As long as you follow the steps in this farmer’s guide, you'll know exactly when your tomatoes should be harvested.