QUESTION: Which varieties of tomatoes are the best ones to grow in the fall? I want to try for a fall harvest this year after the summer season. — Michael W.
ANSWER: The varieties of tomatoes that will perform well in the fall tend to vary by location. You’ll have the best results if you choose a variety developed in your area so you know the tomatoes will thrive in your climate. Of course, there are a few other things you should look for when you’re choosing a variety of tomatoes to grow in the fall.
- Early maturation date: Tomatoes that mature early are sometimes called “short season tomatoes.” Choosing a variety that matures quickly means you’ll get a harvest collected before the first frost.
- Small fruit: The smaller the fruit, the sooner the tomatoes on your plants are likely to develop and ripen.
- Tolerance of heat: Because fall tomatoes will be transplanted when summer is at its hottest, varieties that are designed to tolerate heat well are likely to grow healthy and strong. Look for the words “heat tolerant” on seed packages or in product descriptions.
You can purchase seeds for the variety you choose and grow your tomatoes yourself from the start, or you can start with plants to transplant into your garden. Many nurseries and garden centers will have tomatoes that perform well in the fall in your area. Make sure to ask the employee, who can help you find plants meant to grow in fall and not those left over from the summer season. Fall tomatoes should start appearing at the nursery or garden center starting in midsummer. (Not sure how to tell the difference between a healthy plant and one that’s struggling at the nursery? Check out this article for a checklist to help you choose healthy plants.)
Tomato Varieties to Grow in Fall
- Bella Rosa: This variety produces lots of nine-ounce to 12-ounce red tomatoes. The flavor is described as balanced between acidic and sweet. Plants grow to reach 48 inches. 75 days to maturity.
- Florida 91: The Florida 91 tomato plant’s claim to fame is that the plant will flower and set fruit even in hot weather. Tomatoes are extra large with a hefty harvest. Performs best in warmer regions. 75 days to maturity.
- Glacier: Plants grow up to 30 inches tall and tend to be the first for tomatoes to appear and ripen in summer. Glacier tomatoes are also often the last tomato plant still producing in your garden in the fall. Two-ounce cocktail or slicing tomatoes; 55 days from transplant to maturity.
- Orange Pixie: These plants are quick to mature and will give you a harvest of cherry tomatoes in a shade of sunny yellow orange. Plants reach 18 inches tall; 52 days to maturity.
- Sub-Arctic Plenty: Sometimes called “World’s Earliest Tomato,” Sub-Arctic Plenty plants yield two-ounce tomatoes. Because they mature so early, you can grow them in the fall by planting your seeds in midsummer to see a tomato harvest before the first frost. 50 days to maturity.
- Supremo Bush Roma: Plants reach heights of 36 inches and widths of 18 inches when mature. Resistant to bacterial speck, fusarium wilt, root knot, spotted wilt, and verticillium wilt. Tomatoes are three to three and a half inches long and one and a half to two inches wide. 68 days from transplanting to maturity.
- Atkinson: Developed by Auburn University in Alabama to thrive in the heat and humidity of southern summers. Produces meaty classic red tomatoes between eight ounces and one pound. 70 days from transplant to maturity.
- Beam’s Yellow Pear: Developed in Indiana. Very large plants yield tons of one-ounce pear-shaped yellow cherry tomatoes with diameters around one and a half inches. The sweet tomatoes will continue to appear until the first frost, even in chilly coastal areas.. 71 days to maturity.
- Chocolate Cherry: Vines of six inches or more produce lots of purple-red cherry tomatoes with a one-inch diameter. Tomatoes are resistant to cracking. 70 days to maturity.
- Chocolate Stripes: Bears fruit well into the fall without need for a late midsummer planting. Large plants produce three- to four-inch mahogany-colored tomatoes striped with dark green. 79 days to maturity.
- Fourth of July: Plants that reach heights between four and five feet tall and widths of two to three feet produce early and continue all season. Tomatoes are red and average four ounces in weight. 49 days to maturity.
- Galina: Expect a very early harvest of vivid yellow cherry tomatoes with an average one-inch diameter. Plants are tolerant of cool fall weather and will continue producing after summer has faded into fall. 65-75 days to maturity.
- Gregori’s Altai: These plants produce over quite a long season, so you can plant in midsummer for fall tomatoes or plant as usual for summer tomatoes and enjoy harvesting them into the fall. Yields sweet pinkish red beefsteak tomatoes that weigh in at eight to 12 ounces. 67 days to maturity.
- Kimberley: You’ll likely see this variety also spelled “Kimberly.” Produces cherry tomatoes between one and two ounces and is very early to mature. Mild flavor is more similar to that of a large tomato than the usual cherry tomato tang. 69 days to maturity.
- Moskvich: This tomato variety sets fruit early and yields deep red four- to six-ounce fruits. Plants are tolerant of cold, which will serve them well as fall wears on. 60 days from transplant to maturity.
- Northern Lights: Early season tomatoes continue to appear until fall, so try planting in midsummer for fall tomatoes. Yellowish orange fruits have an average four-inch diameter and weigh in between eight and 16 ounces. 55 days to maturity.
- Super Sweet 100 Hybrid: You’ll also see this variety spelled as “Supersweet 100.” Produces lots of traditional cherry tomatoes. Look for the F1 Super Sweet hybrid instead of the Sweet 100 variety that came before for improved disease resistance and the same great taste. Vines will continue growing and producing until frost, so provide them with a tall support structure; a cage may not be tall enough. 60 days to maturity.
If your region stays above freezing all year round, choose indeterminate tomatoes so you can grow them as a continuous harvest. Whether you choose one of the varieties we’ve listed here or not, you can use the guidelines from the beginning of this article to find a tomato that will keep producing through fall in your region. Just look for small fruit, early maturation date, and heat resistance if the late summer and fall temperatures in your area can be hot.