Why Aren’t My Tomatoes Ripening?

It’s June, and some of you have been wondering why your tomatoes have continued to remain green and are failing to ripen. The short answer is TEMPERATURE.



The optimum temperature for tomatoes to ripen is 70° to 75°F. If you were a bit late getting your tomatoes planted and/or the temperature got above 85°-90°F early this year, the ripening process slows or even stops. At these high temperatures the pigments lycopene and carotene, which are responsible for giving the fruit the red or orange appearance, cannot be produced. If this is the case, the fruit can remain in the green state for quite some time.



In short, it is not lack of fertilizer or lack of sunlight that slows the ripening of the tomatoes.



Tomatoes may be picked in a green state and utilized in recipes for “green tomatoes”, but unless they have begun to produce a “blush” as in the photo to the left,  they will not continue to ripen off the vine.





What Can I Do to Help Them Ripen?


One option may be to provide shade for the developing tomatoes to attempt to lower the temperature. This can be accomplished by moving plants in pots to more shade or erecting a shade structure over the plants in the garden. A 40%-60% shade cloth should be sufficient, but I have improvised with sheets, cardboard and umbrellas! Get creative and you might just have some ripened tomatoes yet!