Tomato crop slow to ripen this season

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Home gardeners and pro growers alike are reporting a stunted tomato crop this season.

“People have been asking for a couple of weeks now, where are the tomatoes?” says Matt Strite, who operates Strite’s Orchard near Harrisburg. “I tell them, they’re there. They’re green.”

Green Tomato 1

Strite says the problem with tomatoes isn’t volume, indicating the plants that he’s been growing in both a weather protected structure and open field “are loaded.” The issue is the amount of time it has taken for the fruit to ripen, which he blames on an unusually gloomy weather pattern during the planting season.

“Overall, it started a little slow,” Strite said. “We had a really weird spring when it started off really hot and then it got really cold again. Then, it stayed cold for pretty much the entire month of April and even May was pretty cloudy. A lot of the vegetables kind of got stunted. We had hundreds of crates of tomatoes we were picking this time last year.”

Red tomatoes 1

While Strite says a sustained imbalance in supply and demand could cause tomato prices to rise, consumers shouldn’t be concerned about sticker shock at the produce stand. He says to this point, the few ripe and ripening tomatoes he’s been able to sell in his market have not come with a higher price tag.

He believes larger farms like his with an earlier planting schedule will be “swimming in ripe tomatoes” by next week, and home growers should begin to see vine ripened fruit in 2-3 weeks.

The plants are healthy,” Strite said. “There’s nothing wrong with the plants. It’s just Mother Nature taking a bit longer this year to warm up.”

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