Yard & Garden Report


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Countdown to Frost

Will your tiny tomatoes and pumpkins ripen before frost?

First Hard Frost Dates in Fall
Average first date of killing frost (28 degrees). Source: North Dakota State Climate Office.

When will my garden really start producing? I can’t wait!

That’s a common feeling among gardeners today. First, we got off to a slow start due to the record cold temperatures this spring. Now our crops are flowering, but fruit setting has been uneven due to the extreme heat. Temperatures in the high 80s scorched the pollen of many flowers, preventing them from setting fruits.  

Cucumber and squash vines have lots of flowers—but few fruits. Baby melons can be found on the vine—but will they ripen in time?

Bell pepper blossoms were burned. Now gardeners are waiting for their next flush of flowers. 

Other gardeners are starting to see red tomatoes in their garden, only to discover these first fruits were ruined by blossom end rot.

Will they ever get a full-sized red, ripe tomato before frost? 

Start by checking your first expected frost date (see map). Now check the table below to see the expected days required from pollination to harvest.

Young fruits
Will this tiny tomato ripen into a full-sized tomato before frost? Probably. Will this tiny pumpkin ripen into a full-sized jack-o’-lantern? Probably not.
Looking ahead to this fall, the National Weather Service sees no strong trends for temperatures in North Dakota from August to October 2018. It’s just as likely that we will have “below normal” as “above normal” temperatures.

Let’s hope for a late frost!


Days from pollination to harvest under warm growing conditions. Source: Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2018.

Crop    Days
Beans   7–18
Cantaloupe       40–50
Corn (from 50% silking)  18–23
Cucumber, pickling 4–5
Cucumber, slicing 15–18
Eggplant           25–40
Okra     4–6
Pepper (green bell) 45–55
Pepper (red bell)  60–70
Pumpkin (jack-o’-lantern)  60–90
Squash, summer zucchini   3–4
Squash, winter acorn  55–60
Squash, winter butternut  60–70
Tomato  (mature green)   34–45
Tomato (red ripe)  45–60
Watermelon      40–50


Written by Tom Kalb, Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University.

North Dakota State Climate Office. 2018. Accessed online.
Purdue University. 2018. Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2018. Page 33.

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