This is Part Three of a seven part series on quirks that can be found with tomatoes. If you are interested in checking out the other Tomato Quirk articles, here are the links:
Why Does My Tomato Not Fully Ripen On Top?
When a particular tomato is completely ripe, but remains green on top (or the stem end), it is called green shoulders. Green shoulders is caused by high temperatures and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. The chlorophyll in the tomato that normally breaks down and turns red during ripening, does not break down, or does so very slowly. This will cause the shoulders of the tomato to remain green, and become harder than the rest of the tomato. The condition is more prevalent in heirlooms because most hybrid varieties are bred for resistance to green shoulders. There are many varieties of tomatoes that will naturally have a green tint on top, especially some heirlooms.
How Do I Prevent Green Shoulders?
The best way to prevent green shoulders on your tomatoes is to provide some shade to the fruit during extreme heat. Make sure the tomatoes have at least some partial shade from the foliage. You can also physically shade the plants for a few hours during mid-day. Use a shade cloth to build a tent around your tomatoes for a few hours each day, especially during times of extreme heat. You can also pick the tomatoes while they are green, or just beginning to ripen, and allow them to fully ripen indoors. Just sit the tomatoes on a window sill or under a skylight, if possible. As long as the tomatoes still receive some indirect light they should ripen just fine.
Tomatoes with green shoulders are still edible. Just cut away the green part and enjoy.
Tomorrow’s Tomato Quirk will be about sunscald. You don’t want to miss this article, and you don’t have to if you subscribe to our RSS feed.
Tomato Quirks Part 4 – Sunscald
Grow Fantastic Tomatoes