Cooler temperatures hurt tomato crop

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)  If you’ve been to the grocery store lately and noticed fewer tomatoes, you’re not alone.

According to The Purdue Extension Office, cooler temperatures and lack of sun are to blame.

“If you like fried green tomatoes, this would be the year I think,” said Pat Marsh, a local gardener.

Marsh’s husband has grown their tomatoes every summer for 35 years, never coming up short.

“50, 100, I know a lot,” said Marsh.

However, this year, with only about five edible tomatoes so far out of 24 plants, their summer ritual just isn’t the same.

“I love having them on sandwiches and salads and all that and right now, I can’t do that and the ones you buy at the store, I don’t like as well as the homegrown ones,” said Marsh.

Ricky Kemery, Purdue Extension Educator, said Marsh isn’t alone.

The agency has received several calls from folks in the area, complaining about this year’s tomato supply.

“They originally come from the foothills of the Andes Mountains around Ecuador and Chile and all those places, they’re used to a little bit warmer temperatures than we’ve experienced this year,” said Kemery.

In fact, Kemery said most fruits and vegetables are behind by about three to four weeks.

You’re at a bigger disadvantage if you planted later.

“Now we’re entering into the part of the year where the day length is decreased and that can have an effect on how crops maturate over time,” said Kemery.

Kemery said there is still hope, though.

If conditions keep up, he recommends hanging up your tomato plant.

“You can actually rip the whole plant out of the ground, hang it up in the garage or somewhere else and the tomatoes will ripen,” said Kemery.

You can also pick the tomatoes and put them out on your counter.

“By golly, the tomatoes are probably going to ripen, unless something really strange happens,” said Kemery.

Kemery recommends also using plastic mulch under tomatoes, or even aluminum foil to keep them warm.

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