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View Full Version : To pick, or not to pick? That is the yellow tomato question.



ESG
May. 24, 2012, 03:22 PM
Soo, it's been a while since I've included yellow tomatoes in my garden. And the one I chose ("Sunny Boy") is a doozy; overrunning absolutely everything else in the bed, and producing like mad.

So, there's a problem? Yes. I have one tomato on that vine that's been there for at least three weeks. It's gorgeous, huge, and not showing the slightest hint of yellow. Now, I usually pick my red tomatoes when the blush is well and truly on them, so the bugs don't beat me to a prize winner. But this? Clueless.

TIA for suggestions/advice. :cool:

Aggie4Bar
May. 24, 2012, 03:56 PM
I would leave it.

How often are you watering? My experience is that they turn quicker when on the dry side.

I had yellows last year, and they were the quickest to ripen. Once it got super hot and super dry, I had everything ripe at once and could barely keep. Made a lot of sauce last year... :lol:

SmartAlex
May. 24, 2012, 04:01 PM
So it's still green? Be patient unless you're gonna fry it.

With each variety, you end up having to experiment a little with the optimum ripeness. I actually prefer my yellow tomatoes a little under ripe and crisp.

ESG
May. 24, 2012, 07:19 PM
Aggie - I water every other day. I have raised beds, and they dry out very quickly.

Alex - I'm thinking to leave it, too. These yellows are really mild and sweet, and I'm afraid it will be a mealy, dry mess if I pick it now. But it's already the size of a big navel orange, and I don't know how much more to let it go. :sigh:

Laurierace
May. 24, 2012, 07:23 PM
I wait until my tomatoes get a tiny blush of color then pick them and put them in a brown paper bag on the counter. Tomatoes ripen in the dark so putting them in the bag speeds the process but they seem to need to start the process on the plant.

ThisTooShallPass
May. 24, 2012, 10:46 PM
If it is there 3 weeks, but the others are rippening, I would say the plant is having a brain fart. Pick it, toss it. Carry on with nurishing the good fruit.

atr
May. 25, 2012, 12:26 AM
There was snow on the ground when I woke up this morning.

Frank B
May. 25, 2012, 10:27 AM
Colorado? Wyoming? Montana? There's been a lot of that going around the past couple of days. Guess we're catching up for the mild winter.

Oh! Oh! I know! It's global warming!

atr
May. 25, 2012, 02:14 PM
Frank, Utah--Wasatch Mountains. We always have snow as soon as the Gambel oaks have their first leaves on them... Every year since I have lived here. The trees leafed up a couple of weeks early this year because its been so mild, so we are hoping that was out June snowfall :)

The Hummingbirds are disgusted, I can tell you.

Frank B
May. 25, 2012, 03:18 PM
I hate to see all that late Spring pink and blue on the radar map. It means we're probably going to catch Hell when the front works its way over here.

ESG
May. 28, 2012, 10:50 AM
Three days later, and still no yellow. Getting lighter all the time, but no yellow. Bogus. :(

kookicat
May. 28, 2012, 04:08 PM
I think I'd pick it just to get it off the plant. Maybe fasten a brown paper bag around it on the plant?

JB
May. 28, 2012, 07:42 PM
Pick it and dissect it! :lol:

buck22
May. 28, 2012, 08:09 PM
leave it leave it! agonizing as it is :lol: it *will* blush

kookicat
Jun. 1, 2012, 06:12 PM
Did it blush yet? :lol:

ex-racer owner
Jun. 2, 2012, 10:41 PM
Not to totally derail the thread, but do people really pick the tomatoes off the plant before they are ripe? I have always waited until the fruits are ripe and ready to eat before picking them off. It never really occurred to me to do otherwise, LOL!

atlatl
Jun. 2, 2012, 10:53 PM
Leave it on the vine. I pick my tomatoes when they give slightly to pressure. I learned to leave mine on the vine since last year I picked them too early. They do ripen on the counter but taste better when they ripen on the vine. I learned my persimmon variety really should be the color of a persimmon, go figure.

ESG
Jun. 2, 2012, 11:50 PM
Y'all will be delighted to know that the prize winning Sunny Boy is still languishing on the vine. I THINK I see some bits of yellow on the very bottom, but am not sure. So until I am, it will stay where it is. :cool:

buck22
Jun. 3, 2012, 07:35 AM
Not to totally derail the thread, but do people really pick the tomatoes off the plant before they are ripe? I have always waited until the fruits are ripe and ready to eat before picking them off. It never really occurred to me to do otherwise, LOL!

I try to pick my toms a few days before ripeness. For one, if I wait until they are ripe, something else might get to it before I do :D Like my strawberries :mad:

But the main reason is so I can plan to use it or give it away. If I waited until they were ripe, I'd have to eat them or give them away sooner. If I pick ahead of time, I can plan better, like canning, making sauce, etc. I have a system with paper bags for ripening and keep them in order of who will ripen first, etc.

Other thing I'm convinced of - but am not sure is true - is that the faster you pick tomatoes the more the plant will produce. Once a tomato ripens on the vine, I believe there is a hormonal signal to the plant that it has accomplished its goal, as the only thing the tomato plant is concerned with is making ripe fruits that will fall to the ground and spread the seeds. I believe if I keep taking the fruits before the plant can feel satisfied its propagated, it keeps kicking out more toms.

The SO is convinced tomatoes left to ripen on the vine have better flavor. We did experiment a few times, and he might be right, but when his prize tomato that he'd been watching for days and waiting to ripen was half eaten by a groundhog the day he wanted to pick it, well, we ate the one I'd let ripen in the house, and boy it was delicious. :D

JB
Jun. 3, 2012, 09:31 AM
Other thing I'm convinced of - but am not sure is true - is that the faster you pick tomatoes the more the plant will produce. Once a tomato ripens on the vine, I believe there is a hormonal signal to the plant that it has accomplished its goal, as the only thing the tomato plant is concerned with is making ripe fruits that will fall to the ground and spread the seeds. I believe if I keep taking the fruits before the plant can feel satisfied its propagated, it keeps kicking out more toms.
this may be true of determinate plants (don't know for sure, never grown them) but indeterminantes produce flowers as long as the vine is still growing (which is until cold gets it), so... :)

I wonder if heirloom maters are more prone to that?

But in general plants do have one goal - produce fruit with seeds to ensure a future generation. All the hybridization done has wiped a lot of that out - self-cleaning petunias that produce flowers until they croak, cosmos producing new flowers until they croak, etc

Bacardi1
Jun. 3, 2012, 07:50 PM
Honestly - if you're going to pick your own home garden tomatoes before they're ripe, you might as well not bother & just buy supermarket tomatoes. The whole point of growing your own is being able to pick them & enjoy them at their peak of ripeness. And it really shouldn't be all that difficult to think ahead a bit & plan ahead as to how you'll use them as they ripen.

Determinate varieties will ripen the majority of their fruit at the same time - & these types are the ones most popular for making canned sauces, salsas, etc., etc. Easy to tell when most of the fruit will be hitting the prime picking stage.

The Indeterminate types you just pick as they ripen & enjoy until blight or frost cuts them down.

Don't understand the problem.

Oh, & for the OP - I've found both "Yellow" & "Green" varieties of tomato to take the longest to reach "ripe".

JB
Jun. 3, 2012, 08:09 PM
But picking them right from the vine a bit before proper ripeness is still LOADS better than the "vine ripe" or "hothouse" or whatever else you find in the grocery store. Those were not picked today, or yesterday, or probably even the day before, so they end up mostly mealy. I've never had a bit premature 'mater off my vine that was mealy in the slightest.

buck22
Jun. 4, 2012, 07:31 AM
this may be true of determinate plants (don't know for sure, never grown them) but indeterminantes produce flowers as long as the vine is still growing (which is until cold gets it), so... :)

I wonder if heirloom maters are more prone to that?
I really don't know for sure, it something I was told or heard or read a while back and its just stuck in my mind all these years. I also talk to my plants and tell them how nice they are :lol: and I shake the seedling every day convinced it makes the stems stouter. Every tomato gets planted with 3 eggshells and the heads cut off a book of matches, etc. I guess I've gotten a bit weird about my 'maters. :D

buck22
Jun. 4, 2012, 07:50 AM
Honestly - if you're going to pick your own home garden tomatoes before they're ripe, you might as well not bother & just buy supermarket tomatoes. The whole point of growing your own is being able to pick them & enjoy them at their peak of ripeness. And it really shouldn't be all that difficult to think ahead a bit & plan ahead as to how you'll use them as they ripen.
I can't even agree a little bit here, but since this is such a heavily debated topic in tomatoes I must suspect that taste difference between pre-picked and vine ripened must be a regional thing. I imagine there are areas in the country where the difference is more astonishing than it is where I live.

My SO is *stongly* in the vine ripened camp, so we go through debates and taste testing every single year :lol:
We even held an official taste testing among friends two years ago, vine ripened vs pre-picked. Bruchetta, summer salad and tomato sandwiches. Prepicked won by a landslide. :D BUT in my SO's defense, I think it was variety that won, he was doing hybrid beefstakes, I was all heirlooms, and I selected a ringer (Black Krim) for the tasting ;) Mamma didn't raise no fool.

Given the right weather, I do believe vine ripened can be deeper and sweeter, but its soooooo rare that I get perfect weather week to week. Last year, the SO had over 4 dozen toms coming vine ripe when we had a monsoon overnight. Next afternoon ALL of his toms had cracked. He managed to salvage just a few.

I find it so much safer to pull them 2-4 days before ripening.

As far as management, in a good year, in the height of my growing season, I pull this every 4-6 days (http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c54/buck1173/4c30a966.jpg). I work a morning, afternoon and evening shift with my job. I actually have to plan to take one of those shifts off in order to make time to can or make sauce, etc. Its a 3+ hour endeavor. In my beginning years growing toms I was la-de-dah about using them and I wound up having a lot of them get rotted because I didn't use them fast enough. So for me, it is all about planning.

And as you can see, its not like I'm picking green tomatoes. :lol: I pick them 2-4 days before I would want to eat them. That seems to give me a 2 week shelf life which is enough time for me to figure out which tomato gets used for what.

JB
Jun. 4, 2012, 09:13 AM
I really don't know for sure, it something I was told or heard or read a while back and its just stuck in my mind all these years. I also talk to my plants and tell them how nice they are :lol: and I shake the seedling every day convinced it makes the stems stouter. Every tomato gets planted with 3 eggshells and the heads cut off a book of matches, etc. I guess I've gotten a bit weird about my 'maters. :D

But there IS science behind the brushing/shaking of the seedlings to strengthen the stems :) It actually does work.

I assume the match heads is for the sulfur? I wonder if there's an easier way to get that done LOL

Your harvest is :eek::eek::eek:

SmartAlex
Jun. 4, 2012, 11:01 AM
Given the right weather, I do believe vine ripened can be deeper and sweeter, but its soooooo rare that I get perfect weather week to week.


this may be true of determinate plants (don't know for sure, never grown them) but indeterminantes produce flowers as long as the vine is still growing (which is until cold gets it), so... :)

I wonder if heirloom maters are more prone to that?

I grow almost all heirlooms with a very few determinate hybrids mixed in, and I firmly believe both production and taste hinge almost entirely on weather.

You need it hot, but not too hot (stops the blooming). Moist, but not too moist (inhibits pollination and "waters down" the taste). And I'm not just talking daytime temps. If your night temps dip below 55 you may as well forget about it. It also matters what time of day you pick. One thing you learn feeding an IR horse is that sugar content of vegitation are lowest in the morning. :yes:

Each garden is it's own Micro-Climate. And the success of a variety in YOUR garden has a lot to do with soil conditions. I've tried varieties everyone raves about and found them absolutely tasteless and vile. The varieties that are successful are so year after year despite minor climate fluctuations. One year (2009), the weather was so cool and damp I got ONE tomato from 5 plants, not a single egg plant, and the sweet peppers rotted on the vine. The night temps didn't get above 50 until July. We had record rainfalls, and I grew more mushrooms and frogs than food.

JB
Jun. 4, 2012, 12:46 PM
Very true! Microclimates - of which there can be many on a single property, even a small one - can make a huge difference, never mind the general regional climate.

The years that we are hot and dry, assuming proper watering, the peppers are by far the winners - too hot for the maters. I can't remember ever having a Summer too cool for tomatoes LOL

I need to be proactive and set up my tomato plants such that I can put some screening of some sort over them if we end up in a really hot Summer again to give them some relief and see if that helps.

SmartAlex
Jun. 4, 2012, 12:55 PM
2008 was so damp that my first planting of green beans did nothing. There was ALGAE growing between the bean rows. The tomatoes survived with copious amounts of Copper dust.

I always prefer the hot dry summers. Water I can buy. Shade I can build. Clouds.... not much you can do about those.

buck22
Jun. 4, 2012, 01:59 PM
But there IS science behind the brushing/shaking of the seedlings to strengthen the stems :) It actually does work.
Oh phew!! Thank you!! When I first started gardening I had terrible troubles and went looking in every direction for help. I adopted a lot of "advice" from a lot of sources, and when my disaster year turned around and became quite successful I didn't know what worked so I keep doing everything :lol: But I really don't know whats valid and whats not any more. I dust all my plants with corn meal too for the first two weeks. I'm convinced it wards off fungus, but I really don't know.


I assume the match heads is for the sulfur? I wonder if there's an easier way to get that done LOL
Yep same with the match heads, it is for sulfur, and I have gardening sulfur for other applications but every year I dutifully buy my box of match books and snip the heads off :lol: Its more tomato lore I picked up and just never let go of.


Your harvest is :eek::eek::eek:
Tomato season is nuts. Again its a big reason why I pick early and have to plan. I suppose I just could grow fewer toms, but I'm addicted to the variety. Growing every single variety at least once is on my bucket list :lol:

Like Smart Alex has said, weather is everything. I do try to time my picking when the beds are dry. I think the flavor is more concentrated. I also will pull tomatoes early if I know a big rainy spell is coming, so at least I have them and they're not sitting cracked on the vine, or they don't get watered down tasting and mushy.

I too find dryer years make for better tomatoes, as I can control the moisture.

I also find different varieties do better than others in different years. One awful hot humid year every tomato suffered and dropped their blossoms except for cherokee purple for some reason, it was a little work horse. I was so impressed by it, I doubled the number of CP plants the next year and they all failed miserably, and every year since, I haven't grown a good CP in years. But I keep putting them in just in case I have the same climate again :lol:

I'm really superstitious about my garden.

ESG
Jun. 9, 2012, 10:39 PM
Finally turned yellow, and has been picked, along with a much smaller, yet much more colorful cousin. Photos to follow. Thanks, y'all! :D