There is no hard and fast rule about when to harvest tomatoes, as it depends on your climate and the type of tomatoes you are growing. Luckily – we have a few tricks and trips to ensure you harvest your tomato at the right time. No matter the cultivar!
Let’s look at when to reap some of the most popular types of tomatoes.
Then get your sauce pots ready!
- When to Harvest Tomatoes
- 1. Cherry Tomatoes
- 2. Roma Tomatoes
- 3. Heirloom Tomatoes
- 4. Beefsteak Tomatoes
- 5. Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
- 6. Grape Tomatoes
- 7. San Marzano Tomatoes
- 8. Early Girl Tomatoes
- 9. Black Krim Tomatoes
- 10. Midnight Snack Tomatoes
- 11. Green Tomatoes
- Tomato Harvesting FAQs
- When to Pick Tomatoes for Fried Green Tomatoes?
- How Can You Tell When Tomatoes are Ready to Pick?
- Should You Pick Tomatoes Before They Are Red?
- What Month Should Tomatoes be Ready to Pick?
- Should I Let My Tomatoes Ripen On the Vine?
- Do Tomatoes Ripen Faster On the Vine or Off?
- How Long Do You Leave Tomatoes On the Vine?
- Best Tomato Seeds for a Beautiful and Bountiful Harvest
When to Harvest Tomatoes
The best rule for harvesting tomatoes is that they’re (technically) ready to harvest as soon as they grow to their mature size. Ideally, you want them to reach their full size – and then ripen on the vine. However, you can also remove your tomatoes from the vine prematurely, and they can ripen on your kitchen counter.
Also – when harvesting tomatoes, pay close attention to your transplant date! Your transplant date determines how long your tomato plants take to mature. After transplanting, tomatoes usually take 50 to 90 days. Once your tomatoes grow to their recommended size, they are approaching harvest. (Some tomatoes are mature when they’re tiny – others grow up to a pound. Or more!)
So – it’s important to remember what type of tomato you’re growing. How large does your cultivar grow? Also – remember to keep an eye on their coloring. When they reach their final color, they’re ready for harvesting!
We also want to discuss 11 of our favorite tomato varieties in more detail.
Outdoor Happens is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Click to learn more
When are these tomatoes ready for harvesting?
Let’s look closer!
1. Cherry Tomatoes
We love cherry tomatoes! No vegetable garden would be complete without cherry tomatoes. These tiny little red balls of sweetness are simply delicious, and most cherry tomato varieties crop prolifically with very little care required. Definitely one to try if you are a first-time tomato grower!
When to Harvest Cherry Tomatoes
Most varieties of cherry tomatoes reach maturity 60 days after sowing. Seeds sown under cover can get planted after the last frost. They should crop from early summer through late October.
Preferred Cherry Tomato Cultivar
Sungold plants will crop an abundance of golden orange cherry tomatoes with an intensely sweet flavor. I grow Sungold every year, and at least half the crop never makes it to the kitchen. I can’t resist snacking on them straight from the plant!
They thrive in hardiness zones three to eleven. So – odds are they will handle your climate.
2. Roma Tomatoes
Roma tomatoes are often also called plum tomatoes. This variety is perfectly-suited for cooking, canning, and preserving, as they are very fleshy with minimal juice.
They handle growing zones three through ten without worry – and leave you with an abundant and delicious crop.
When to Harvest Roma Tomatoes
For a large tomato? Roma reaches maturity relatively quickly – around 70 to 80 days after sowing in the right conditions. They will give a steady supply of tomatoes from mid-summer onwards, with the harvest starting to dwindle towards the end of September.
3. Heirloom Tomatoes
An heirloom tomato is an open-pollinated, non-hybrid variety of tomato. Open pollination means the seeds remain true to type, often for centuries. With heirloom seeds? We could be growing the same types of tomatoes that our great grandparents grew!
You’ll notice a range of heirloom tomatoes available, with cherry, beefsteak, plum, and salad varieties in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Preferred Heirloom Tomato Cultivar
There are too many heirloom tomato seeds to name. But here’s one of my favorites. Costoluto Genovese is a beautiful Italian heirloom tomato dating over 200 years old. The fruits are large with deep ridges, and the deep-red flesh is rich in flavor.
They grow without fuss in zones three through ten – so most American growers shouldn’t have problems. For short-season growers – start them indoors. Or – call a local plant nursery for some starter plants!
When to Harvest Heirloom Tomatoes
When to harvest heirloom tomatoes depends on the seed you are growing. Tinier cherry tomatoes tend to crop earlier and go on until the first frost, whereas larger tomatoes produce the bulk of their crop in late summer and early fall.
(Also – remember that determinate tomatoes usually finish growing first. Indeterminate tomatoes – which are commonly heirloom – grow consistently throughout the year.)
4. Beefsteak Tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes are the grandest type of tomato that’s perfect for slicing! A single fruit can be up to six inches in diameter. They also have dense, meaty flesh with few seeds. Perfect for eating in a salad, sandwich, or alongside a big fat porterhouse steak.
Preferred Beefsteak Tomato Cultivar
Marianna’s Peace bears large tomatoes that are a vibrant deep red color. The flavor is the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. They love growing in zones two through eleven – giving our homesteading friends plenty of leeways.
When to Harvest Beefsteak Tomatoes
Most beefsteak varieties need the prolonged hot sun to ripen. So these will be the last of your tomato plants ready to harvest. Expect to pick most of your beefsteak tomatoes from late summer into early fall.
5. Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Cherokee Purple tomatoes are beefsteak-style tomatoes with intense flavor and dense, red-purple flesh. The fruits of this incredible plant can weigh more than half a pound each! They grow in zones three through ten and bear a beautiful violet or deep purple finish. You’ll love this cultivar!
When to Harvest Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Like most beefsteak tomatoes, Cherokee purple tomatoes grow slowly. They need prolonged sunny weather to mature. They are ready to pick by late summer and will continue to crop well until early October.
6. Grape Tomatoes
Grape tomatoes are roughly the same size as cherry tomatoes but slightly oval rather than round. They are tremendously easy to grow, and each plant typically produces hundreds of tiny tomatoes. The skins are thicker than cherry tomatoes, and the fruits are not quite as sweet.
Preferred Grape Tomato Cultivar
Thai Pink Egg produces tiny rosy-pink tomatoes sweeter than many other grape tomatoes. It grows in zones three through eleven.
When to Harvest Grape Tomatoes
Grape tomatoes are the gift that keeps on giving! If planted out shortly after the last spring frost, they will produce fruits within a few weeks and continue cropping until late October.
7. San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano is a variety of plum tomato perfectly suited to cooking. The smooth, dense flesh makes the best tomato puree or paste. San Marzano tomatoes grow comfortably in growing zones three through ten.
When to Harvest San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano will give you a steady supply of tomatoes from mid-summer onwards until the first frosts.
8. Early Girl Tomatoes
Early Girl tomatoes are a great choice if you have a shorter growing season, as they mature quickly. They are one of the earliest cropping salad tomato varieties. They’re best in growing zones three through eleven.
When to Harvest Early Girl Tomatoes
Mid-size plants get planted after the last frost. They should crop from early summer into late October. But – it depends on when you plant them – and when you’re expecting the final frost.
9. Black Krim Tomatoes
Black Krim tomatoes are a delightful and delicious heirloom beefsteak variety, producing large deep purple fruits. The flesh gets hugely sought after for its rich, smoky taste. They’re perfect for growing zones three through ten.
When to Harvest Black Krim Tomatoes
Black Krim tomatoes are a slow-growing cultivar and may not crop until mid to late summer. They require prolonged sunshine and warm weather, and if grown undercover, they will continue to ripen until late October.
10. Midnight Snack Tomatoes
We love these for midnight garden grazing – or any occasion! Midnight Snack is an indigo-type cherry tomato that ripens to red with a beautiful glossy black-purple sheen. They’re flexible and handle growing zones three through eleven without dispute.
When to Harvest Midnight Snack Tomatoes
You need to harvest your Midnight Snack tomatoes at midnight! We’re just joking. Midnight Snack tomatoes are one of the earliest-ripening cherry tomato cultivars and will crop abundantly! Look for ripe Midnight Snack tomatoes all summer long.
11. Green Tomatoes
If you’re growing a green variety of tomatoes, it can be tricky to figure out when it is ripe! Luckily, some subtle color changes can help us decide when they are ready to harvest.
Preferred Green Tomato Cultivar
Green zebra tomatoes are our favorite! The fruits of the Green Zebra tomato are green, with distinctive yellow-green stripes. They grow in zones three to ten – so you can probably grow them unless it’s tremendously cold.
When to Harvest Green Zebra Tomatoes
To check when a green tomato is ready to harvest, give it a gentle squeeze. The flesh should show a slight give, just like a red tomato.
Tomato Harvesting FAQs
We’re sure you’re bursting with questions about when to harvest tomatoes, so we’ve got all the answers right here!
Best Tomato Seeds for a Beautiful and Bountiful Harvest
We’ve had the pleasure of harvesting tomato plant after tomato plant. Year after year!
We want to showcase our favorite tomato cultivars for unbelievable harvests.
If you’re not sure which tomato crop is best? Try some of these!
These are the same tomato varieties we love – and recommend to our homesteading friends.
- Ace 55 Tomato Seeds | Botanical Interests
Ace 55 is a breathtaking 1950s determinate heirloom with unbelievable flavor. It's a low-acid tomato plant making it ideal for canning. Expect colorful fruit five to six inches in diameter. They're also favorites if you store your tomatoes in jars. They mature in roughly 80 days and grow to about 36-inches tall.
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
We love tomatoes!
They’re the perfect crop for homesteaders all over the US – and the world.
If you have questions about harvesting tomatoes at the best time – please ask us.
We have a ton of experience harvesting, germinating, growing, and nurturing tomatoes.
We welcome your questions.
Thanks so much for reading.
Have a great day!