Tomatoes are very common in Arkansas gardens, thanks to the state’s warm climate allowing them to grow with relatively few problems. You only need to start this crop at the right time to enjoy its sweet and tangy flavor.
As for what season to sow tomatoes in, March to May and July 1 to July 15 are the ideal time spans. Discover more tips on when to plant tomatoes in Arkansas below.
Table of Contents
- Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Arkansas
- Varieties of Tomato to Plant in Arkansas
- Tips for Planting, Caring for, and Harvesting Tomatoes in Arkansas
- Factors That Affect the Optimal Time to Plant Tomatoes in Arkansas
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Time to Plant Tomatoes in Arkansas
1. Plant indoors and outdoors in spring from February to May
There are two ways you can start planting tomatoes—by sowing them indoors or outside.
- If you choose to plant indoors, I recommend growing them five to six weeks before the last frost and moving them outside after it.
- In this case, it’s also best to harden the tomatoes off for one week before transplanting to minimize shock, but if you prefer to skip this step, wait until the final frost has passed to sow tomatoes outdoors.
Because Arkansas has its final frost on March 20 to April 20 on average, February 7 to March 9 will make for an ideal indoor planting time, while March 21 and later is a good time to plant tomatoes outside.
Below are the frost estimates for some locations in Arkansas.
|Location||Last frost||First frost|
|Barling||April 3||November 1|
|Booneville||April 11||October 28|
|Clarksville||April 1||November 5|
|Crossett||March 27||November 4|
|Earle||March 24||November 6|
2. Planting time for different areas
Arkansas has four hardiness zones. Northern parts of the state, including northwest Arkansas, are in zone 6b or 7a, while central Arkansas covers zone 7b and 8a, with southern parts of the state falling under zone 8a.
The spring planting date for each climate region is as follows.
|Average last frost||Planting time (indoors)||Planting time (outdoors)|
|In zone 6||March 30 – April 30||February 17 – March 19||March 31 – May 1|
|In zone 7|
|In zone 8||February 22 – March 30||January 11 – February 17||February 23 – March 31|
3. How late is too late to plant tomatoes in Arkansas?
Tomatoes should be mature and harvested before the first frost date, since cold temperatures will lead to brown leaves, lack of root growth, misshapen fruits, and even plant death.
As tomatoes require around 100 days to mature from transplants and 150 days to ripen from seeds, the latest time for growing tomatoes in Arkansas will be July 22-30 for transplanted crops and June 2-10 for seeded fruits.
These estimates, of course, depend on the first frost being November 7 to October 30.
Varieties of Tomato to Plant in Arkansas
Here are the best tomatoes to grow in Arkansas if you’re looking for suggestions.
- Better Boy – indeterminate tomato that resists fusarium wilt and produces high yield
- Mountain Pride – determinate tomato, resistant to verticillium wilt and perfect for sauces
- Arkansas Traveler 76 – pink tomato that endures heat and drought well
- Plum Dandy – determinate variety, resistant to early blight and excellent for fresh consumption
- Lemon Boy – yellow indeterminate tomato with low susceptibility to nematodes and gray leaf spot
- Lizzano – semi-determinate and matures very quickly in 50 days; suitable for gardeners with concerns about late blight
- Super Sweet 100 – Like Lizzano tomatoes, this type also grows in 50 days. It is suitable for juicing, cooking, and is very sweet.
- Large Red Cherry – indeterminate variety with resistance to fusarium wilt; excellent for pickling and preserves
Tips for Planting, Caring for, and Harvesting Tomatoes in Arkansas
- Plant tomato seeds at a depth of ½ inch, whether you’re putting them in pots or direct-sowing the crops. The soil should be loose and well-drained with a pH of 5.8 to 7.2 to grow healthy tomatoes.
- At the same time, we recommend applying a balanced fertilizer like a Triple 13 at a rate of 1 pound for every 100-feet row before sowing.
Dig a hole wider than the root ball but as deep as the tomato if you’re using transplants, and remember to water the soil so that it’s damp but not sodden.
- Just as importantly, care for the tomatoes by irrigating them every two to four days and applying a nitrogen dressing three to four weeks after transplanting. Depending on soil conditions, the tomatoes will require additional potassium when flowering and more phosphorus when fruiting, usually an 8-32-16 or 24-8-16 fertilizer.
- Other essential growing tips for tomatoes include giving them six to eight hours of sunshine daily and staking them down every four feet while keeping the seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart.
- As for harvesting, simply pick tomatoes when they are pink or orange and firm to the touch. Cut the stem of the fruits using pruners or your fingers, and leave the calyx intact so that tomatoes continue to ripen.
Factors That Affect the Optimal Time to Plant Tomatoes in Arkansas
Tomatoes grow best under a temperature of 80℉ during the day and 60℉ at night. For fruits to set well, the heat should not exceed 90 degrees or reach 100 degrees, at which point pollination may be affected.
Seeds may take longer than a month to germinate if you sow them under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so aim for a range of 65 to 85 degrees for optimal growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do tomatoes grow well in Arkansas?
Yes. So long as you plant them at an appropriate time and give them plenty of sunlight and water, tomatoes will grow well in Arkansas.
What are some common tomato-growing mistakes to avoid?
One mistake you should avoid is using tall or lanky transplants, which will take more time to establish than tomatoes with stocky bodies and equal lengths and widths.
It is also best to water tomatoes at the roots and not the foliage so that moisture soaks into the soil instead of evaporating. This measure also prevents fungal and bacterial diseases that can develop when the foliage is wet.
Another thing to be mindful of is crop rotation. You should not grow tomatoes in the same plot every year or even in a spot that also housed their cousins in the nightshade family.
One rotation system that’s straightforward to implement is to interchange locations for brassicas, legumes, cucurbits, and nightshades.
Figuring out when to plant tomatoes in Arkansas is simple. Avoid extreme cold and heat and sow them in the evening so that the plants have time to adapt before being exposed to sunlight outdoors. If you have further questions on growing tomatoes, leave us a message.