When To Pick Tomatoes: Handle Tomatoes Like A Pro

BY Shaafay Zia
Last Update:

Did you ever wait for TOO LONG to pick your tomatoes? You must have picked them close to them being spoilt. Or did you pick your tomatoes TOO EARLY and end up with slightly green tomatoes? 

Well, after reading this guide, you won’t have those problems again. AsterGardening has had years of experience growing tomatoes. We’ve been through what you might be going through right now. 

Growing tomatoes is hard at first, but with our experience, you’ll start like an expert

From picking tomatoes to harvesting them, you’ll get to know it. We even have some secret strategies every tomato grower must know as well! So read on.

When To Pick Tomatoes

When To Pick Tomatoes?

When To Pick Tomatoes

If you’re looking to get the BEST possible yield of your tomatoes, you HAVE to know the best time to pick them. Just like in life, timing is everything in gardening. But it’s not the only thing as well. Let’s get you those JUICY tomatoes!

Type of Tomato Plant

It’s like: To each their own. Different varieties have different growth patterns and fruiting habits. 

If you’re in a hurry, you can grow grape and cherry tomatoes. While they ripen earlier, varieties like the larger beefsteak tomatoes ripen late. 

There’s another twist in the story. Indeterminate tomato varieties ripen together like a team! While determinate tomatoes fruit throughout the growing season. 

Vine Tomatoes (indeterminate):

Vine Tomatoes

Bush Tomatoes (Determinate):

Bush Tomatoes

Weather Conditions

You’d be surprised to know that tomatoes grown in dry and hot climates get ready faster. While ones in cooler and wetter climates may take longer.

How to Tell When Tomatoes are Ready to Harvest?

How to Tell When Tomatoes are Ready to Harvest

It’s imperative to know when to harvest your tomatoes. You don’t want to end up with unripe tomatoes or ones which are TOO ripe. What’s the use of putting in SO many hours of work to not get the best produce and flavor you deserve? 

Let’s go through everything you need to consider to know what a fully ripe tomato looks like. 


The most obvious telltale sign is the color. Different varieties have different colors when they ripen. Generally, they have a uniformly colored rich hue. It doesn’t matter if they’re yellow or red; they should be rich in color. 

Tomatoes transition from a green color to light orange to a full-blasted hue. But if they’re purple or blue, well, you’ve got bigger problems to worry about!


Suppose your tomato reaches the size of a bowling ball! If they do, you better call the Guinness world record and see if you made it!

Depending on the tomato variety, they should reach their optimal size. May that be small, medium, or large. The only thing that matters is that they are plump, firm, and free of cracks.


A typically ripe tomato should be firm but yield to slight gentle pressure. This is the ripening process. Unripe tomatoes are hard and unappealing too. If you’ve waited too long, they soften and have passed the fully ripen stage. So don’t wait too long for tomatoes to ripen. 

Ease of Detachment

The mother plant holds on to the unripe fruits until it finishes the ripening process. Cute right? When picking tomatoes, they are fully ripe if they easily come off the vine. If there’s a hold to it, let the unripe tomato stay longer with the plant.  You’ll feel resistance even if you’re using shears. 


You want to detect a sweet and earthy scent when a tomato ripens. Otherwise, if you smell dirty gym socks, toss them away!

What Factors Affect the Time to Pick Tomatoes?

Factors Affect the Time to Pick Tomatoes

If you want the tastiest fruit, you HAVE to pick tomatoes at the best harvest time. There are many factors which you have to consider. Don’t worry; after reading these, you’ll remember them like the back of your green thumb!


  • Cherry tomatoes – 50-60 days
  • Beefsteak – 80 – 100 days
  • Cherokee Purple – 80 – 100 days
  • San Marzano – 80 – 90 days
  • Brandywine – 100 – 120 days


These sensitive creatures are affected by the climate. Well, all plants are. If you live in a tropical environment, your tomatoes will ripen faster than in a colder region. They’re like the Goldilocks of the vegetable world; the proper environment is all they need. 


It comes down to you as well. Tomato varieties don’t matter for this factor. You need to remove extra foliage for proper air circulation and direct sunlight. You don’t want your plants bickering with each other like children, do you? 

Well, practice proper pruning techniques. You want too many tomatoes, but they need to be healthy. 

Pro tip: Use pruning shears when it’s time to harvest


Tomatoes are sassy when it comes to soil. The ultimate soil pH for them is 6.0 – 6.8. They like to grow in slightly acidic soil. If you want your tomatoes to taste fantastic, make sure to keep the soil acidic. 

Suggested reading: Soil PH For Tomatoes: Expert Tips To Plant


Are you looking forward to eating fresh tomatoes? Well, all of us are! It’s best to consistently water your tomato plants. Irregular watering or even overwatering can lead to your tomatoes splitting! 

Crash Course on Split Tomatoes

Have you noticed your tomatoes developing cracks in their skin as they grow and ripen? Don’t get hasty. It’s not because you’re going to have a HUGE fruit. 

This happens because of underwatering or after the fruit has finished ripening. 

With all these variables, grow tomatoes with love. Water them the right amount, provide the right amount of sun, and give them what they need! When you do, your tomato fruit will taste AMAZING!

Strategies for Harvesting Tomatoes

Strategies for Harvesting Tomatoes

Handle your tomato garden strategically. Harvesting tomatoes isn’t a walk in the park; it’s a strategic move in the garden. No one wants to end up with unripe green tomatoes. What you wish for are PLUMP, DELICIOUS ripe tomatoes! 

Vine Ripened Tomato

Thinking about how to harvest tomatoes? Well, this will probably be a game-changer for you. Do you want to have the juiciest and tastiest tomatoes? The key isn’t just knowing the exact time for picking tomatoes. If you want your tomato’s taste to foster, Let them ripen on the vine. 

Let’s list the pros and cons of vine-ripened tomatoes:


  • Better flavor
  • Higher nutritional value
  • More sustainable


  • Fragile
  • Shorter Shelf life
  • Weather-dependant

Whether you let them ripen on the vine or ripen off the vine, you’ll have to make a trade-off.

Store Properly

They’re delicate; we’ve said it, and you’ve read it. Storing tomatoes is an intricate business. They spoil quickly, so keep them in a cool and dry place. They love the sun, but not after you’ve picked tomatoes. 

Use Two Hands

When you plan to harvest tomatoes, gear up! You have to use both hands. That’s the best practice when picking tomatoes. Gently twist the fruit off the stem. It should come off quickly when they’re ripe tomatoes. Even if you’re using.

You’ll have the best flavor if you use these strategies to harvest tomatoes!

Suggested reading: Tomatoes Not Turning Red? Proper Tips For You

FAQs about When To Pick Tomatoes

1. Do tomatoes ripen faster on the vine or off?

Tomatoes ripen better and faster on the vine. Usually, farmers harvest them before they are fully mature because they want a window of time for them to reach the market. Let them ripe on the vine if you’re eating them fresh. 

2. Does removing leaves help tomatoes ripen?

Well, we won’t recommend removing more than one-third of the leaves at any time. The leaves provide the necessary shade and energy. Removing the leave can help ripen the fruit healthily and sustainably. 

3. Should you pick the first flowers off tomato plants?

It’s not necessary to pick the first flowers off. The plant will naturally let go of any flowers it can’t support. However, if the scenario is such that the plant is having difficulty supporting the weight of the fruit, then you can go ahead. 

4. What is the best way to ripen tomatoes in the house?

The best way to ripe tomatoes is to leave the fruits on your kitchen counter, preferably on a sunny windowsill. If you want to make it faster, put them in a paper bag. 
Funny but valuable tip: Add a banana to the paper bag. The banana provides ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening. 
But be sure to keep a check on them!

What’s Next

By now you’ll be having fantasies about your tomatoes. Now you know how to pluck, harvest and properly care for your tomatoes. Using our strategies, visit AsterGardening, you’re going to become an expert grower. 

Invite your friends over, make them a fresh tomato soup or a salad from these plump tomatoes. You’ll FEEL the difference in the ones you grow with our strategies. 

Go ahead and share this guide with your family, friends, or anyone who LOVES tomatoes. Trust us, they’ll thank you for doing so too.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Article by:

Shaafay Zia

Hi, I'm a fellow green thumb who moonlight's as a writer. Gardening is something that brings me peace and I have been in the sport for many years now. With all of our expertise, we will always bring you the best content which will make you love your garden, even more.