Cherry tomatoes, sometimes called salad tomatoes, differ from other tomato varieties based on the cherry-like size of the fruit. The cherry varieties commonly have a shorter growing season than the larger fruited cultivars, although some recent standard-sized hybrids are comparable. Cherry tomatoes are commonly grown for fresh consumption rather than processing for sauces or juices.
The cherry tomato varieties vary in maturity dates from about 60 days to close to 80 days. The maturity dates indicate the number of days between planting and the harvest of ripe fruit. Many cherry tomato varieties are classified as indeterminate, meaning the vines continue to grow until freezing in the fall. They also continue to produce during the entire summer. This extends the productive period from the maturity date until the first frost of the fall, provided the plant receives adequate moisture.
Tomatoes of all types are considered a tender plant that does not tolerate freezing conditions. Plant seeds in the garden, or transplant started plants into the garden, after the average date of the last frost in the spring. This date is commonly available from garden clubs or the local extension office. Start seeds indoors about six weeks before the planned date of transplanting.
Cherry tomatoes mature about 1 inch in diameter, with large quantities of fruit produced per plant. Monitor the fruit for color change as it matures rather than relying on a range of dates. Temperature variations and other weather variations play a part in the maturity of the plant and the ripening of the fruit. For example, a 70-day maturing cherry tomato may take longer to mature fruit in cool and wet weather.
While the cherry tomato is commonly thought of as a red fruit there are some variations in the type. The “Green Grape” is a green medium-sized tomato that matures in about 70 days. “Sungold” matures rapidly, in less than 60 days, and yields an orange fruit while the “Yellow Pear” tomato appears as the name implies and matures in about 80 days.