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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

Upcoming Events

Western S. Tier Produce Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

January 28, 2020
Jamestown, NY

A jam-packed schedule of educational topics for regional growers, this meeting features dynamic sessions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Topics will be relevant for vegetable, berry, field crops, and greenhouse/flower, and organic growers. Focus areas in 2020 include disease management and enhancing local markets. Pesticide credits available in many NY and PA categories, CEUs requested.

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2020 Upper Genesee Valley Produce Growers Meeting

February 14, 2020
Freedom, NY

A bit of something for everyone! This meeting will feature experts from Cornell Cooperative Extension discussing food safety in auction lots and quality control, how to successfully lengthen the growing season, making the most of a small grain rotational crop, and common disease and pest info. Summer squash, cabbage and pepper production tips will be presented by Mark Zittel, an experienced produce and greenhouse grower for 20+ years. Participants will have the opportunity to join group discussion in breakout sessions of their choosing. And don't forget to stop by the Demo Table to see weeds and soil health exhibits. FREE but registration is requested by February 12.

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Precision Agriculture Series - Erie

February 19, 2020
March 4, 2020
March 25, 2020
: Erie County
East Aurora, NY

Join Cornell Cooperative Extension to learn what precision agriculture entails, the economics of using precision ag, and the preferred methodology and benefits. This free, 3-day event series is being organized by CCE Erie County with assistance from Dr. Ali Nafchi, Precision Ag Specialist of the CCE Cornell Vegetable Program and CCE NWNY Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops team. Topics for each day will be determined by the audience interests and questions.

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Announcements

2019 Cornell Vegetable Program Year in Review

We closed out the decade with many accomplishments in 2019! We look forward to helping the New York vegetable industry in the new decade!

This year, our Specialists gave presentations at 104 events, sharing our knowledge with 3,936 people.

We continue to conduct on-farm research to help answer the questions of our growers. The Cornell Vegetable Program managed 38 research grants and projects in 2019. We extend our gratitude to the 107 farms and organizations that offered us land, labor, supplies, and generous financial contributions to support our trials!

We cannot forget to thank the 14 Cooperative Extension Associations that partnered with us this year too.

Our 2019 Year in Review brochure highlights our research and educational projects:
  • Design and Fabrication of an Affordable Laser Scarecrow
  • High Tunnel Research Increases Profits for New York Growers
  • Improved White Mold Management Guidelines for Snap, Lima, and Dry Beans
  • New Potato, Dry Bean, and Vegetable Storage Specialist Joins the Team
  • First Cornell Vegetable Program On-Farm Cabbage Herbicide Trial Explore Novel Approaches to Weed Control
  • Record-Low Insecticide Use in Muck Onion Production in 2019
  • Improving Produce Storage Quality through Forced Air Cooling
  • Mapping the Way to Better Disease Management


FSMA Regulations for (Very) Small Food Processors

FSMA Regulations for Small and Very Food Processors
Friday, January 31, 2020
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Cornell Agri-Tech, G34 Food Research Lab, 665 W North St, Geneva, NY 14456


Did you know that the new federal regulations for small food processors under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) are in effect as of September 2018? Do you know what is required of you or your facility as a New York State food manufacturer?

During this one-day introductory course, the experts at Cornell's Food Venture Center will explain the new food safety exemption requirements for Small Businesses. Get the information and tools you need to make your operation comply with the FDA rules for selling safe products to the public.

Registration space is limited to 24 attendees in Geneva. The cost to register is $25/person. Deadline to register is Friday, January 17, 2020. Register now!


GAPs Trainings in the Region

Attend a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training to learn:
  • How to Identify Food Safety Risks on Your Farm
  • Strategies to Mitigate the Risks
  • How to Satisfy Food Safety Requirements for Farm to School
  • How to Create a Food Safety Plan for Your Farm
Seneca County: A two-day GAPs training at Vince's Park, Corner of Routes 318 and 5&20, Seneca Falls.
Monday, February 10, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday, February 11, 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Register online by February 1. Call Judy Wright at 315-539-9251 x109 with questions.

Wayne County: GAPs training at CCE Wayne County, 1581 NY-88, Newark, NY 14513.
Thursday, March 19
Register online by March 12. Call Craig Kahlke at 585-735-5448 with questions.


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