There are three categories of tomatoes: early season, late season, and main crop. Early season and late season seem fairly explanatory to me, but what are main crop tomatoes? Main crop tomato plants are also referred to as mid-season tomatoes. Regardless of their nomenclature, how do you go about growing mid-season tomatoes? Read on to find out when to plant mid-season tomatoes and other mid-season tomato info.
What are Main Crop Tomatoes?
Mid-season or main crop tomato plants are those that come into harvest in midsummer. They are ready to harvest about 70 to 80 days from transplant. They are an excellent choice for areas with a short to medium growing season and where nighttime or even daytime temps turn cool to chilly in early fall. These tomatoes are at their peak harvest in midsummer. To differentiate, long season tomatoes come to harvest more than 80 days post-transplant and are suited for areas with lengthy growing seasons. Early season tomatoes are best for regions with short northern growing seasons or coastal regions with cool summers.
When to Plant Mid-Season Tomatoes
As mentioned, mid-season tomatoes are ready to harvest about 70 to 80 days from being transplanted into the garden. Most transplants were started six to eight weeks prior to transplant in a greenhouse or inside. Tomatoes, in general, will not grow when temperatures are under 50 degrees F. (10 C.) and even that is a bit of a stretch. Tomatoes like warm weather. They should not even be transplanted until soil temperatures have warmed to 60 degrees F. (16 C.). Of course, tomatoes run the gamut from determinate to indeterminate, to heirloom to hybrid, to cherry to slicing-- each with a slightly different time frame from seeding to harvest. When growing mid-season tomatoes, decide which variety or varieties you are going to plant and then consult the packaging instructions to determine when to plant the seeds, counting backward from the projected harvesting date.
Additional Mid-Season Tomato Info
Another interesting tidbit about getting a mid-season crop of tomatoes is rooting the tomato suckers. Tomato suckers are those tiny branchlets that grow between the stem and branches. Using these allows the gardener another opportunity for a tomato crop, especially at a time when seedlings are not available in June to July. To root the tomato suckers, simply snip off a 4 inch (10 cm.) long sucker. Place the sucker in a jar filled with water in a sunny location. You should see roots in nine days or so. Allow the roots to grow until they look large enough to transplant and then plant immediately. Shade the new plant for a few days to allow it to acclimate and then treat it as you would any other tomato plant.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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