Harvest frequently-at least every other day.
Handle fruit gently, as they are delicate and prone to bruise.
When picking, pull down and gently twist the stem to remove fruits from the vine. If harvesting tomatoes that grow in more of a cluster form, it is acceptable to cut at stem with clippers.
Check for signs of pest or disease damage, leave in field or in “seconds” bin if there are any imperfections.
Avoid harvesting when wet—this helps prevents disease spreading on your plants, as well as on harvested fruit.
Pack tomatoes directly into boxes or “final destination” bins, when possible. If harvesting into buckets, fill only a few layers high—for a standard five-gallon bucket, fill half, to two-thirds full, depending on ripeness.
Wear cotton gloves, or bring a rag/cloth into the field when harvesting, or packing bins, to clean off dirt or debris off of fruit.
When harvesting, remove stems. (this may be different if harvesting specialty heirloom varieties). Stems can damage and puncture the other fruits in the bucket, making them not suitable for sale.
When packing boxes or bins, store tomatoes “shoulder side” down—(stem side down).
Best to harvest between “the breakers” and “pink” stages. This is when the tomatoes are between 10%-50% colorful. Depends on how far your tomatoes are travelling, and when they will be marketed.
Try to pack boxes with relatively uniformly sized tomatoes.
High quality fruit are firm, swollen and shiny in appearance.
No signs of mechanical injuries, shriveling or decay.
Turners/breakers are generally preferred by wholesalers communicate with your buyer on the maturity desired. so Light red and red tomatoes are more appropriate for direct marketing, farmers’ markets.
Green tomatoes are preferred for long distance wholesale supply chains.
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