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Why Are My Tomatoes Orange Instead Of Red – Causes & Fixes

As your growing time is coming to a close and you are getting ready to harvest your tomatoes, you may notice that some or all of your tomatoes aren’t colored specifically the way you expected. This is a common problem that many gardeners have. You may be asking yourself, why are my tomatoes orange instead of red?

There are several reasons your tomatoes may be an orange color instead of the bright red that they are most commonly seen as. They could have been grown in too warm of temperatures, or they may not be properly ripening. There’s always a possibility that they aren’t fully ripe yet, or maybe you didn’t realize you are supposed to be growing orange tomatoes. 

Continue reading for a detailed explanation of orange tomatoes and the process of giving them their lively red color again.

Why Aren’t My Tomatoes Ripening?

As most of us know already, once the shape of a tomato develops on the vine, it will slowly change colors until it’s ripe. It starts out green and transitions to yellow, then orange, and finally to red. One of the main components of tomatoes is Lycopene and Carotene. These pigments are found in fruits and veggies with a strong red/orange color.

This can include grapefruits, carrots, and watermelon. Not only is lycopene a pigment that provides color, but it’s also a strong antioxidant that provides health benefits. One of the main reasons your tomatoes aren’t turning red could have everything to do with the lycopene and carotene nutrients that are in your tomato plants.

If your tomato plants are receiving too much sunlight and heat, especially at temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the development of lycopene and carotene can be restrained, causing the tomatoes to slow or even freeze their ripening process. This could be the reason your tomatoes aren’t ripening and why they are staying orange in color. 

How Do I Get My Tomatoes To Turn Red/Ripen?

  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. If you notice a heat streak coming in the near future, prepare for it with shading mechanisms. Providing your tomato plants with enough shade from direct heat and sunlight will lead them to ripen properly. Also, planting your tomatoes too soon can expose them to colder temperatures, hindering them from becoming properly ripe. 
  • Ensure that your soil is fertilized and balanced with the right amount of nutrients. Any deficiency or toxicity of a certain mineral or vitamin could cause a disorder in your tomato plants. For example, yellow shoulder can be caused by a lack of potassium and too much magnesium within the soil. Yellow shoulder causes blotchy yellow or orange spots that show through the skin of the tomato, making them less red than they should be. 
  • Make sure that you are continuously harvesting whatever fruit is ripe. Relieving your plants of their ripened fruit allows them to put more effort into ripening the tomatoes that need more time and effort. 
  • Try harvesting orange or green tomatoes and placing them indoors to ripen. A room temperature area with good airflow and ventilation may allow the tomatoes to finish ripening. Also, the tomatoes still attached to the vine will have a better chance of ripening if it has fewer tomatoes to give its best efforts.
  • Don’t be in a rush to have perfectly ripe tomatoes. Sometimes your plants need more time for their fruit to ripen.

Are My Tomatoes Supposed To Be Orange?

You may be wondering why your tomatoes aren’t turning red, but have you considered that maybe they aren’t supposed to? You could have mistakenly grown a species of orange tomatoes. Orange tomatoes are a part of the heirloom family which can include a variety of colors such as green, red, orange, yellow, purple, and even multicolored.

The orange color comes from a high amount of beta carotene. Each heirloom variety has its own unique flavor.

Orange tomatoes specifically are lower on the acid scale and have a fruity and sweet flavor. Orange tomatoes can be as small as the cherry size and get as big as the common beefsteak tomato.

Sometimes it’s fun to jump out of the box and grow tomatoes, unlike the typical ones we buy in the grocery stores. Orange tomatoes can be fun to try new recipes and experiment with different flavors. Imagine making orange tomato sauce or salsa.

So, with that being said, before you decide that your tomatoes won’t ripen, consider the possibility that you are growing a fun alternative to the classic red tomato. 

Different Types Of Orange Tomatoes:

  1. Amana Orange- They are a beautiful shade of orange with the capability to grow up to two pounds. Many refer to the taste as tropical and sweet.
  2. Brandywine- A very popular heirloom variety loved by many. These are a perfect balance of tart and sweet and tend to be about a pound in weight. 
  3. Amish Gold- These are pretty hard to find compared to other orange tomato varieties, but they look a little longer in a more oval shape and are known for a unique and divine flavor.
  4. Big Orange- If you are a fan of juicy and larger tomatoes, these would be great for you. They are commonly fairly large and packed with tons of flavor. 

Final Thoughts

There are a few good explanations for why your tomatoes are orange instead of red to wrap this tomato discussion up. Growing temperatures can be too warm, restricting lycopene production and limiting the red color within your tomatoes.

Perhaps a shading technique will help in that case with lessening direct sunlight. Also, well balanced growing soil can prevent issues like yellow shoulder, a disease that gives tomatoes an orange appearance.

Lastly, a purchasing mistake could have easily been made, and maybe your tomatoes are supposed to be orange. You can still eat orange tomatoes. They will taste yummy and make for a more intricate dish or sauce. Orange tomatoes could still be a good thing. 

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