When to Plant Tomatoes in Oklahoma
When to plant tomatoes in Oklahoma? The first key to successfully growing tomatoes in your garden in Oklahoma is that the soil temperature needs to be above 60°F.
Typically in southern Oklahoma, for these conditions to occur we have to wait until around April 5. In northwestern Oklahoma that date is, of course, later – April 25. Keep in mind that if the soil temperature falls below 50°F it would impair the growth of your tomato plants.
What about air temperatures? What are optimal air temperatures for tomatoes in Oklahoma?
It’s imperative to plant your tomatoes outdoors once the risk of frost is gone. Either that or if there is still a frost risk you can protect your plants with covers.
When are the last frost dates in Oklahoma?
The following table lists approximate first and last frost dates for various cities in Oklahoma. Note that the dates provide a probability of 30 percent. Frost dates are averaged from 30 years of data (1981-2010).
First and Last Frost Dates in Oklahoma
Tap the chart to enlarge
Plant your tomatoes outside in Oklahoma at least a week after the last predicted frost date in Spring.
Prior to planting do be sure to remove all pots and any bands wrapped around the root ball of the transplants. By all means, you can leave peat pots in place.
If you do plant with peat pots still intact around the root ball, make sure you plant the entire pot below the soil surface. Peat pots can act as a water wick if any part is showing above the soil surface. They ‘wick’ the water away from the root system.
Set your transplants a little deeper in the soil than the original planting depth in the pot. The lowest two leaves should be just above the soil level. In fact, you can remove the lowest leaves and plant more deeply to encourage additional root growth.
If you have to get by with leggy transplants you can lay them flat in a trench. Cover the stem with soil (remove the leaves before covering the stem). Allow the upper-most four inches of the transplant to remain exposed. This encourages roots to grow along the length of the stem that’s buried within the soil.
The holes for your tomato transplants should be around three to four inches in depth. Make the holes between two and four feet apart within each row. The spacing will be dependent on whether you are growing vigorous tomatoes (indeterminate) or non-vigorous tomatoes (determinate).
For caged or staked plants space rows at a minimum of three feet apart. If leaving your tomatoes unsupported, allow three to five feet between each row.
Determinate varieties can be spaced at around 24 inches apart within each row. Indeterminate tomato varieties should be given more space within rows – space at 24-36 inches apart.
Best Tomato Varieties For Oklahoma
When you’re considering which tomato plants to buy think about the productivity, the resistance to disease, and the characteristics of the fruit.
In Oklahoma, the main disease to affect tomato plants is Fusarium wilt. Nematodes can also prove to be problematic.
The list below offers a variety of tomatoes that have done well in Oklahoma over the years. It is, by no means whatsoever, an exhaustive list. The vast majority of tomato varieties and cultivars will do well in Oklahoma. Here are a few of the top picks:
Slicer Tomatoes (ideal for eating fresh)
Cherry Tomatoes (small fruit size; for eating freshly picked or drying)
‘Super Sweet 100’ (65 days to maturity)
‘Sungold’ (57 days)
‘Black Cherry’ (65 days)
‘Sweet Million’ (65 days)
‘Yellow Pear’ (70 days)
Paste/Canning (thick flesh; ideal for drying or canning)
Saladette/Pear (smaller-sized fruits; eat fresh or dry)
Very Large Sized Tomatoes for Oklahoma (individual fruits frequently weigh over 1lb)