Grocery Store Tomato Not Decaying

Too late to plant in June

Q: On September 4th I bought three ‘on the vine’ tomatoes at my local grocery. I used two and left the third on the counter. As it sat there week after week showing no indication of decay, it became a challenge to see exactly how long it would last. The first indication of decay started Nov 7. What modifications are being made to produce tomatoes which last at least three months? 

A: I don’t know exactly why it lasted so long but I have a theory. The tomatoes you purchased are called Tomato-On-Vine (TOV) tomatoes. They are typically grown in a greenhouse, where plant density and fruit yield can be maximized. By necessity, greenhouse growers try to provide perfect conditions for their tomatoes. Insects, weeds and diseases are tightly controlled. Workers must sterilize their shoes before entering. I think your tomato lasted so long because it was so clean when the cluster was harvested. The skin was fungi-free. The only place fungal invaders could enter was through the stem. They finally did so when you separated this Methuselah from its comrades. The fungi grew slowly but finally broke through..Remember, this is only a theory but if anyone has a better explanation let me know!

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