Tomatoes are a favorite crop among home gardeners and farmers alike. This is because the fruit (not a vegetable!) is versatile, easy to grow, and bears lots of fruit when properly taken care of.
However, there is a frustration among growers: tomatoes take longer to ripen particularly during the cold season. This is because the beloved fruit hails from the tropical region of South America which caused tomatoes to not evolve the chemical triggers to hasten ripening as the temperatures dips.
Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks on how to expedite the process.
One is to pinch the top of the plant once it has produced four trusses (or bunches) of fruit to prevent it from growing any taller or bearing more flowers. If the plants have already grown bigger, pinch out their growing tip and remove all green fruit that have yet to reach their mature size.
This way, the tomato plant won’t waste resources on producing fruit and will be able to focus more on ripening what they have already produced. Several trials also note that this technique also improves the flavor, size, and nutrient content of the harvest.
Another way to get the plants to focus on ripening its fruits is by inducing stress. If the tomatoes sense that they might be at risk, the plants will respond by speeding up the maturation of fruit to ensure the next generation through their seeds.
To do this, gradually reduce the amount of water. It is important to this slowly to give plants enough time to adapt since irregular watering can cause harvest deformities like split fruit or blossom end rot. The same thing goes for fertilizer.
Lastly, as the end of the planting season nears, one sure way to induce stress is to hamper water absorption by root trimming. Simply slice into the soil around the plant with a spade about 50 centimeters away from the main stem to sever the outermost roots. Work your way around the plant until a ring is formed.
Just imagine, a tomato plant can ripen faster, produce less waste, and bear better-tasting as well as nutritious fruit in exchange for a little pruning and being slightly lazier with watering.