Guide To Identify, Control / Prevent Tomato Greenback Effectively

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This is a complete guide that will help you to identify, control, and prevent pesky greenback tomatoes or green shoulders.

Read further for more information!

What Is Greenback And How It Harms Tomato Plants?

Greenback, also known as green or yellow shoulder, is a physiological condition in which the shoulders of tomato fruit remain green, and the rest ripens.

The green portion appears as tough flesh. It is genetic and affects some cultivars, especially in the greenhouse.

It affects the tomato fruits and their marketability.

How To Confirm That Greenback Is Troubling Your Tomato Plants?

Check the fruits, and you may observe hard green areas on the shoulder of the fruit. Sometimes, at maturity, these areas may turn yellow and remain yellow. They may be either uniform or in irregular patches.

When you cut the fruit, these areas remain hard as the chlorophyll fails to break down.

The green or yellow colored areas at the stem end that is hard to touch will confirm that condition is the greenback.

Check out this video for additional information:

Natural Ways To Control Greenback On Tomato Plants

Once the greenback develops in fruits, there is no natural treatment to control them. You may add potassium-rich fertilizers, including banana peels to control greenback tomatoes in the future. However, research studies are required.

Physical Ways To Control Greenback On Tomato Plants

The most effective way to control greenback on tomato plants is to place a row cover over the plants, especially in areas with high temperatures. But, if the fruit has already greenback, cut the affected parts and eat the ripened places.

1. Shade The Plants Using Row Cover

Shade the plants with a row cover during the hottest time of the day. It helps in controlling the greenback in tomatoes.

  • Drape lightweight netting– Set hoops about three feet apart, and lightweight drape netting along hoops. You may also use fabric or plastic.
  • Poke holes in the covering– If using plastic covering, poke holes to prevent overheating. This will protect the plants from developing green shoulders.

Here is a useful video on constructing row covers:

Chemical Ways To Control Greenback On Tomato Plants

There are no chemical pesticides available to treat greenback as it is a physiological problem due to the stress on the plant. It is directly related to the weather and nutrient deficiency. It is not a disease or caused by pests.

So, chemical treatments will not work.

How To Prevent Greenback In Tomato Plants?

The different preventive measures to be followed are controlling heat, providing shade, growing resistant varieties, and regularly feeding with potassium fertilizers.

1. Control Temperature And Sunlight

Avoid the exposure of plants to high temperatures to prevent greenback. You may use shade netting to protect the plants from extreme sunlight. Also, provide adequate ventilation.

2. Choose Greenback Resistant Cultivars

Choose greenback-resistant cultivars, including Alicante, Cristal, Nimbus, and Craigella. It will help in preventing these conditions.

Also, you may choose hybrids over heirloom varieties as they are less prone to the greenback.

3. Follow Good Gardening Practice

Avoid irregular watering of plants. It is preferable to keep the soil moist but not overly wet.

Also, feed the tomatoes regularly to provide the necessary nutrients. Adequate potassium will reduce greenback.

4. Avoid Excessive Pruning

Take care that your tomato plants have plenty of foliage to protect the tomato fruits. Also, avoid excessive pruning and exposure of fruits to bright sunlight.

5. Pick Tomatoes Early

Pick tomatoes early if you have hot summer in your area to prevent greenback tomatoes. You may ripen them off the vine indoors. You may store them with ripe apples or bananas to fasten the ripening process.

What Causes Greenback Attacks In Tomato Plants?

Greenback occurs in tomato plants if the plant is exposed to high temperatures when the fruit is ripening.

Also, plants with reduced foliage expose the fruit to excessive direct sun radiation, causing greenback.

If the plants are provided with unbalanced fertilizers, especially low in potassium may increase their susceptibility to the greenback.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are greenback tomatoes different from ripening tomatoes?

In greenback tomatoes, the green areas on the stem end are noticeably firmer or harder to touch than other ripened parts of the fruit. The green areas may also be spotted on tomatoes that are in the process of ripening but will not be harder.

Are tomatoes with green shoulders edible?

In greenback tomatoes, the green areas on the stem end are noticeably firmer or harder to touch than other ripened parts of the fruit. The green areas may also be spotted on tomatoes that are in the process of ripening but will not be harder.

Are tomatoes with green shoulders edible?

Yes, tomatoes with green or yellow shoulders are still edible. Cut around the hard, unripened portion of tomatoes and throw them away. The rest of the tomato is edible and delicious.

Why do tomatoes develop yellow shoulders?

When the top of the tomato fruits is exposed to a higher temperature, the carotene pigment shines whereas lycopene is squelched. So, the top of the tomato shoulders may remain yellow while the rest ripens to red as the lower part of the fruit is protected from direct exposure.


I hope this guide has provided you with many tips that can be implemented to control and prevent greenback tomatoes in the future.

Please write to me if you have any tips in dealing with greenback tomatoes.

Do share the guide with other friends who are facing this issue in their garden!

Check out more guides on other common tomato problems>