Planting Tomatoes in Arkansas: The Full Guide

Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants grown in home gardens all across America.

In Arkansas too, tomato season is highly cherished. 

The summer is the perfect time to enjoy the newly harvested tomatoes, juicy and ripe to perfection.

Tomatoes are believed to be native to Arkansas. 

Even before the Europeans arrived in Arkansas, Native Americans were already cultivating a few different tomatoes. 

At first, the Europeans avoided eating tomatoes, thinking they were poisonous since there were certain incidences of people dying after consuming tomatoes.

The true culprit was later discovered to be the pewter dishes. 

The acidity of tomatoes would leach the lead out of the plates and lead to lead poisoning.

Today, tomatoes are grown and consumed globally in a wonderful variety of dishes.

Tomatoes can be enjoyed fresh in a garden salad, seasoned well in salsa, roasted as a side, or cooked into a delicious marinara sauce, the highlight of many pasta dishes and pizzas.

When should I plant my garden in Arkansas?

For most garden crops, springtime is a great start.

Temperatures are mild enough during spring to suit most plants. 

There is also plenty of rainfall to support plant growth and studies have shown that springtime plantation results in higher yield and more disease resistance. 

What tomatoes grow best in Arkansas?

Several types of tomatoes can be grown in Arkansas.

You can choose between red, pink, paste, or cherry tomatoes.

Red Tomatoes

Red tomatoes are the classic bright red and globe-shaped tomatoes.

Better Boy is the most superior quality that can be grown in Arkansas. It takes 72 days for them to fully ripen. The vines grow quickly and produce an exorbitant amount of fruit. It is also resistant to fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, and root-knot nematodes.

Celebrity, Mountain Pride, and Big Beef are other varieties that grow well in Arkansas.

Big Beef has an indeterminate vine that produces tomatoes of excellent flavor and a weight of nearly 2 pounds throughout the season.

Pink Tomatoes 

The Arkansas Traveler is an heirloom tomato that has a pink cast to the skin but it is deep red inside. 

It has a mild flavor that is perfect for salads and picky eaters!

It is crack-free as well. The fruit yielded is small to medium but has a great sweet-to-tart flavor.

The Brandywine heirloom tomatoes have a distinct beefsteak-shaped fruit, deep pink skin, and outstanding flavor.

However, they do require a longer time to complete, about 78 days.

Paste Tomatoes

These tomatoes are grown to be turned into a paste. 

However, these tomatoes taste amazingly fresh as well.

One of the most outstanding varieties is the Plum Dandy tomatoes. 

They are compact Roma tomatoes. 

They ripen in 82 days and are resistant to early blight, fusarium wilt, and verticillium wilt.

The Viva Italia is a hardy tomato specie that thrives. 

They can withstand harsh changes in weather and produce good quality fruit, regardless.

They produce 3-ounce fruit which is known for its bold and bright flavor.

Cherry tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes are small, round tomatoes known to be a hybrid between currant-like tomatoes and regular garden tomatoes. 

They are great container plants that can be grown on a windowsill with lots of sunshine. 

You can pick the fruit off the vine and eat it right away!

The Sweet Chelsea tomatoes need ample heat to produce 1-inch fruit that ripens within 65 days. 

It is fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus.

The Juliet tomatoes are scraped tomatoes that grow in clusters and have a deliciously sweet taste. 

They have been nicknamed the ‘Mini Roma’ tomatoes because of their shape. 

They produce lots of fruits that have a long shelf life and require 65 days to ripen.

What month do you plant tomatoes?

Tomatoes are sensitive to frost and grow better in warmer weather.

They are warmth-loving plants and thrive in generous amounts of sunshine. 

Tomatoes are mostly planted in late spring to early summer.

In South Arkansas, where the temperatures rise earlier, you can plant your tomatoes in early April. 

Whereas mid-April works for central Arkansas and late April is preferable for the northern areas.

How do you grow tomatoes in Arkansas?

The best set of conditions you can provide for your tomatoes are:

– Plant tomatoes in a sunny spot that ensures the plant gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.

– The plants like a warm temperature, in the 80s, during the day which cools off to 50s or 60s at night.

-Use well-drained loamy soil to avoid rot.

-The optimum pH level for the soil is between 5.8 to 7.2.

-Water container plants every day and thoroughly water tomato beds every 2-3 days.

Follow these tips and you’ll have good tomatoes.

Happy gardening!

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