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Why Aren't My Tomatoes Ripening?

Steve Reiners, Co-Team Leader, Cornell University
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

August 22, 2012
Why Aren't My Tomatoes Ripening?

With all of the hot weather we have experienced this summer, growers were expecting their tomatoes to ripen very quickly. Unfortunately, just the opposite is happening. Ripening seems very slow, almost like what we see in the autumn when temperatures are much cooler.

So what's happening? It takes six to eight weeks from the time of pollination until tomato fruit reach full maturity. The length of time depends on the variety grown and of course, the weather conditions. The       optimum temperature for ripening tomatoes is 70 to 75F. When temperatures exceed 85 to 90 F, the ripening process slows significantly or even stops. At these temperatures, lycopene and carotene, pigments responsible for giving the fruit their typical orange to red appearance cannot be produced. As a result, the fruit can stay in a mature green phase for quite some time.

Light conditions have very little to do with ripening. Tomatoes do not require light to ripen and in fact, fruit exposed to direct sunlight will heat to levels that inhibit pigment synthesis. Direct sun can also lead to sunscald of fruit. Do not remove leaves in an effort to ripen fruit. Also, soil fertility doesn't play much of a role. We do know that high levels of magnesium and low levels of potassium can lead to conditions like blotchy or uneven ripening or yellow shoulder disorder. But the slowness to ripen is not likely due to soil conditions and adding additional fertilizer will do nothing to quicken ripening.

If you absolutely cannot wait, some growers will remove fruit that are showing the first color changes.  These fruit, in the a mature green or later phase, could be stored at room temperature (70-75F) in the dark. A more enclosed environment would be best as ethylene gas, released from fruit as they ripen, will stimulate other fruit to ripen. If temperatures remain high outdoors, these picked fruit will ripen more quickly, perhaps by as much as five days. As far as flavor, the greener fruit should develop flavor and color similar to what you would get if field ripened. The key is picking them when they are showing the first signs of ripening (no earlier) and keeping them at room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as this will absolutely destroy their flavor.

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Asparagus

Asparagus

Beets

Beets

Broccoli

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cabbage

Carrots

Carrots

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Dry Beans

Dry Beans

Eggplant

Eggplant

Ethnic Vegetables

Ethnic Vegetables

Garlic

Garlic

Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Melons

Melons

Onions

Onions

Parsnips

Parsnips

Peas

Peas

Peppers

Peppers

Potatoes

Potatoes

Pumpkins / Gourds

Pumpkins / Gourds

Radishes

Radishes

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Rutabaga

Rutabaga

Snap Beans

Snap Beans

Squash - Summer

Squash - Summer

Squash- Winter

Squash- Winter

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Turnips

Turnips

more crops
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Upcoming Events

2017 Empire State Producers EXPO

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 16 - January 19, 2017
Morning, Mid-day, and Afternoon Sessions
Syracuse, NY

The 2017 Empire State Producers Expo combines the major fruit, flower, vegetable, and direct marketing associations of New York State in order to provide a comprehensive trade show and educational conference for the fruit and vegetable growers of this state, as well as the surrounding states and Eastern Canada. 
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Farm Food Safety Workshop (Erie County)

January 30 - January 31, 2017
9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
East Aurora, NY

Whether you just want to learn more about what farm food safety is all about or if you are being required to have food safety training by your buyers, this training is for you!

This training will provide growers with the information needed to begin implementing food safety into their practices. Day 1 will cover all aspects of what farm food safety is and why it is important for anyone involved in growing fresh produce. Day 2 will help those who want to write a draft food safety implementation plan for their own farm. A food safety plan is required for GAPs/HGAPs audits.
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2017 WNY Fresh Market Winter Vegetable Meeting (Southern region)

Event Offers DEC Credits

February 9, 2017
8:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Ellicottville, NY

Regional Fresh Market Winter Vegetable Meetings will be hosted by the Cornell Vegetable Program to discuss results from 2016 research trials and present information on pest management. Program topics will include an update on wildlife management, high tunnel nutrient management update, vegetable disease update including the new iPiPE Program in vegetables, new Climate Smart Farming Tools, cover crops and soil health, an update on Food Safety and Modernization Act and what you need to do for your farm, and other regional research and program updates.
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Announcements

2017 Cornell Vegetable Guidelines Available

The 2017 edition of the Cornell Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Production is now available. This annual publication provides up-to-date vegetable crop production information for New York State. It is designed as a practical guide for vegetable crop producers, crop consultants, ag chemical dealers, and others who advise vegetable crop producers.

In addition to the annually revised pesticide and crop production information, highlighted changes in this edition of the
Vegetable Guidelines include:
  • Addition of Dickeya blackleg on potato as a disease of concern.
  • Updated regulatory considerations for organic vegetable production.
  • Revised European corn borer management strategies for beans and potatoes.
The Cornell Guidelines are available as a print copy ($41 plus shipping), online-only access ($41), or a package that combines print and online access ($57.50 plus shipping). Cornell Guidelines can be purchased through your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or from the Cornell Store at Cornell University. To order from the Cornell Store, call (844) 688-7620 or order online.

Eden Valley Growers Named 2016 Friend of Extension

Strong friendships typically spring from deep roots. That is certainly the case with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and Eden Valley Growers, Inc., a 50-year-old vegetable growing farm cooperative in western New York. It's also why CCE recently honored Eden Valley Growers with its 2016 Friend of Extension award.

"Excellent extension and research programming is not possible without grower involvement and that is where Eden Valley Growers comes into the picture," said CCE Director Chris Watkins during the keynote address at the Friend of Extension luncheon on December 2, held at Cornell University's Moakley House. "Their member farms are key in connecting university research to real-world farm utility."

On hand to accept the award were representatives from member farms Henry W. Agle & Sons, Amos Zittel & Sons, W.D. Henry & Sons, MCR Farm and D. & J. Brawdy Farms. In accepting the award, Mark Zittel told the audience that the relationship between Eden Valley Growers and CCE is a symbiotic one and that CCE provides unbelievable resources for vegetable growers throughout the state. The most important of those resources, he said, are extension specialists such as [Darcy] Telenko, who are wholly committed to assisting the cooperative's member farms. Read more...

NEW! Pesticide Product Search Online

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Bureau of Pest Management has released a new pesticide product registration database. When visiting the webpage, please select the Products icon on the right side of the page to perform product searches.

This pesticide search database is replacing the Product, Ingredient, and Manufacturer System (PIMS) product database that has been hosted by Cornell University since its inception.

The new search database includes many added features, including site and pest searches. Additionally, updates to the product data and labeling will be reflected instantaneously. 

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