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5 Signs Your Tomatoes Are Perfect for Picking

Tomatoes are the most popular crop grown in home gardens. Harvesting them at the right time makes all the difference between a flavorful, juicy tomato and a flat, mealy one.

Tomatoes come in many colors, so deep red isn’t always the best sign of ripeness.

If you started your plants from seed, use the days to maturity as a guide: 42-70 days for early varieties, 70-80 for mid-season, and 80-110 for late-season tomatoes. Growing and weather conditions significantly affect the ripening process.

The best way to know if a tomato is ready to pick is by checking its appearance and feel.

How to Know When Tomatoes Are Ready to Pick

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1. Color

Ripe tomatoes usually have a uniform color with no green spots. Red tomatoes should be deep red, yellow tomatoes deep yellow, etc.

Some heirloom tomatoes, like the Black Krim, which stays olive-green near the stem, may still have green areas even when ripe. Always check the seed package or plant label for specific color details.

2. Skin

Ripe tomatoes have shiny, glossy skin. Unripe tomatoes look dull and powdery.

3. Texture and Feel

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A ripe tomato feels tender and supple. Use your index finger to press it gently; it should give slightly. If it feels hard like an apple, it’s not ready yet.

4. Attachment to the Vine

Ripe tomatoes come off the vine quickly with a little twist or tug. If you have to pull hard, it’s not ripe.

5. Smell

Ripe tomatoes have a subtle fragrance. Hold your nose close to the fruit to detect it, as the foliage has a strong smell that can mask the tomato’s scent.

Check your tomatoes daily as they ripen, especially in warm, sunny weather. They might be in a day or two if they’re not quite ready. Keep an eye on them for the perfect harvest.

Learn more:

Why Are Tomatoes Splitting and How to Stop This Common Problem

Is It Safe to Eat a Split Tomato? Here’s What Experts Recommend