You planted tomatoes, watered them, fed them and watched the plants grow. Now you’re wondering when exactly you will see ripe tomatoes on the vines. How long does it take tomatoes to produce fruit anyway? After all, you’ve invested time and energy to enjoy a healthy, homegrown harvest. It’s natural to want to know when you’ll have it. Read on to learn everything you want to know.
How Long Does It Take Tomatoes To Produce Fruit
Different varieties take different time to grow. However, you can typically expect to wait for 40 to 50 days from the time you set the seedlings in the ground until the plants start producing tomatoes. It will take another month for the baby tomatoes to grow to maturity and ripen. Adding up the numbers, it can take between 70 to 80 days for seedlings to produce fruit that’s ready for harvest for most varieties. When growing from seeds, it can take about 107 to 125 days to produce mature fruit.
Factors Governing Days To Harvest
There’s no definite answer to the number of days tomatoes take to produce fruit. There are a number of factors that influence the actual growing time. Other than the variety you are growing, the environmental conditions, temperature and the level of care you give them will also affect the harvest time.
Other than that, you’ll need to wait even longer when growing from seeds. Seed germination can take between a week or two depending on the temperature and moisture. It takes another month or so before they are healthy enough to be transplanted outdoors. So growing tomatoes from seeds adds about another 1.5 months than it would take if you grew them from transplants.
Phases Of Tomato Plant Growth
The growth of tomato plants can be broken down in 4 phases, each with their own duration. If growing tomatoes from seeds, the phases your crop will go through are listed below. If you purchase transplants from the nursery to plant directly in the garden in spring, the first two stages of tomato growth are skipped. Your crop will start directly from the third stage, and will consequently take less time to grow to maturity.
Seed Germination (7 to 14 days)
Under the ideal conditions seeds will germinate in a week, or even less. The germination phase will complete as soon as you see a green sprout appearing from the seed. Time for germination primarily depends on the temperature. 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature range for germination. Temperatures lower than 70 degrees will slow down germination, while those above 80 may cause it to fail completely.
Seed To Seedling Growth (57 to 60 days)
The sprouted seedlings growing in pots or seedling trays can be placed on a sunny window to develop further. With proper care, they are ready to be transplanted outdoors in about a month. When you purchase transplants from the nursery, they can directly be planted outdoors.
Flowering (20 to 30 days)
From the time the seedlings are transplanted into the garden, it can take as little as 20 days for the plants to bear flowers. Tomato flowers are self-pollinating, i.e. both male and female flowers are present on the same plant. They’ll bear fruit even if you plant a single tomato plant. Flowering indicates that the plants will soon bear fruits.
Fruiting (20 to 30 days)
It takes between 20 to 30 days for small green fruits to replace flowers on the vine and grow to their mature size. At the end of this stage, you’ll have ‘mature green’ tomatoes. The time for fruiting varies with the variety, among other factors. Some tomatoes take more time since they have to develop to a large size before ripening. Cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, will take little time to grow to their mature size before ripening can start.
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Ripening (7 to 30 days)
Ripening is the color change of ‘mature green’ fruit to the final color of the variety. Not all tomatoes are red. Yellow, orange, pink, purple and even green tomato varieties exist. Once the tomatoes start to change color, you can either let them complete the process on the vine and pick them once they are in full color, or pick them at an early stage of ripening and ripen them indoors.
Tomato Varieties According To Harvest Time
Different tomato varieties take different times to reach harvest. Based on the time the take to grow, you can classify tomato varieties into three categories:
Early-season tomato varieties take just about 40 to 60 days to grow to maturity from transplants. They are an excellent choice for growing in areas where the growing season is short. Early Girl, Chocolate Sprinkles, and Sub-Arctic Plenty are some popular early-season tomatoes.
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Midseason varieties take between 60 to 80 days to produce ripe fruit from the time you set transplants in the garden. German Johnson, Tumbling Tom, and Black Cherry are some of the cultivars you’ll find under this category.
Late-season tomatoes require a long warm growing season and can take up to 80 days or more to bear ripe fruit from transplants. Cherokee Purple, Red Beefsteak, Pink Brandywine and Mr. Stripey are some excellent varieties to grow if you have long summers in your region.
Now you know how long does it take tomatoes to produce fruit. Patience and persistence is the key to growing the best fruits and vegetables in the garden. Tend to your tomato plants, keep them free of pests and diseases and soon enough, you’ll have some red, juicy fruits ready to be picked off the vines!