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Tomato question

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Tomato question

Post  kamigh on 7/1/2014, 1:29 pm

This is my first year SFG, and for the most part my tomatoes are doing outstanding.  Based on past experience here in hot, dry, Texas, I've found that smaller tomatoes tend to do better than big ones.  But, I'm an optimist so I tried a big(ger) variety this year as well: Paul Robeson, a purple tomato that was supposed to be fantastic.  It grew - I got three fairly large tomatoes from it, but they cracked at the top and frankly didn't taste as fabulous as the descriptions.  Now that the three tomatoes are harvested and eaten, the plant is still growing but there is only one tiny bloom on it right now.  We are just getting into the hottest part of the summer. What are the chances that it will grow more tomatoes this year?  If the chances are low, I have no problem pulling it up to free up a square for something else that could be viable.  On the flip side, if there is a high likelihood to produce more, I want to give it  that chance.
I'd appreciate any thoughts/comments on this - thanks!

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Re: Tomato question

Post  camprn on 7/1/2014, 6:27 pm

Tomato's won't set fruit if the blossom is exposed to 90°F or greater.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/1/2014, 6:31 pm

Last year we had a month of temps 100 degrees and over. When that happens, tomatoes can't set fruit. Mine kept dropping blossoms. But after the summer started to cool down, we got tomatoes again.

So you could wait it out, but that is an unproductive month or more you might be facing, and in order to get tomatoes you didn't find particularly good off a plant that isn't very productive. So even winning, the gambit might be a losing one for you.

Do you have another crop in mind that might do well in that heat, and which you would enjoy just as much if not more?

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Re: Tomato question

Post  Pollinator on 7/2/2014, 8:01 am

@camprn wrote:Tomato's won't set fruit if the blossom is exposed to 90°F or greater.

I don't believe it. My tomatoes (not tomato's - quick Mabel, get that spray can of apostrophocide!) are setting fruit in temperatures above 90.

That kind of heat just narrows the window in which pollination can take place. Pollination needs to happen between the time the dew dries and the time the pollen is killed by the heat.

If you have good bumble bee activity during that brief time, you can still have fruit set. Or if you buzz the flowers yourself with a tuning fork (Middle C) during that time. You can rattle them with an electric toothbrush or other means, but nothing is as efficient as that resonant buzz. If the flower is ready, it will spew pollen. It's kind of exciting to watch it happen.

You can stretch the boundaries of pollination, if you can get it done at the right time. That depends on good bumble bee population - or on YOU.

Now - if controlling tomato *diseases* were just as easy as pollination and pest control! I'm working on it, learning every year.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  yolos on 7/2/2014, 9:30 am

@Pollinator wrote:
@camprn wrote:Tomato's won't set fruit if the blossom is exposed to 90°F or greater.

I don't believe it. My tomatoes (not tomato's - quick Mabel, get that spray can of apostrophocide!) are setting fruit in temperatures above 90.

That kind of heat just narrows the window in which pollination can take place. Pollination needs to happen between the time the dew dries and the time the pollen is killed by the heat.

If you have good bumble bee activity during that brief time, you can still have fruit set.  Or if you buzz the flowers yourself with a tuning fork (Middle C) during that time. You can rattle them with an electric toothbrush or other means, but nothing is as efficient as that resonant buzz. If the flower is ready, it will spew pollen. It's kind of exciting to watch it happen.

You can stretch the boundaries of pollination, if you can get it done at the right time. That depends on good bumble bee population - or on YOU.

Now - if controlling tomato *diseases* were just as easy as pollination and pest control!  I'm working on it, learning every year.
Pollinator - Let me know when you get it figured out.  My tomatoes are naked from the waist down due to cutting off diseased leaves. 

How did your experiment with Abe Lincoln tomatoes work out.  I planted some this year.  So far, the Better Boy, Juliet and Abe Lincoln are winning the battle against the diseases.  All other varieties will be a race against time.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  camprn on 7/2/2014, 10:25 am

Pollinator, I posted a typo, I don't need a lesson in punctuation use, unless it's about semicolon. But thanks anyway.
By posting this link I am in no way endorsing this company.

http://bonnieplants.com/2011/07/tomato-plants-not-setting-fruit-heres-why/


http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/vegetables/TOMATO.html


Last edited by camprn on 7/2/2014, 12:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


camprn

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Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

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Hmmm . . .

Post  rabbithutch on 7/2/2014, 11:33 am

I have a Celebrity tomato plant that is no longer setting fruit.  I also have a cherry tomato that IS setting fruit.  They are planted in adjoining squares and obviously experiencing the same environmental conditions.

Yes, we are getting into 90°+ temps every day.  (We're happy that we got to July without triple digit temps.)  Why is one plant setting fruit and the other one is not?

As I understood the posts, the pollen released at temps above 90° is killed by the heat.  Does that mean that if I get out and use the tuning fork early in the day that the pollen will remain viable long enough to cause fruit to be set?

Color me confused in Texas.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  TxGramma on 7/2/2014, 12:29 pm

rh, some varieties can tolerate heat better than others. And yes if you get out there before the temps get that high you will have a better chance of them pollinating. But with tomatoes you need to wait til the dew has dried. I read somewhere that around midday is a better time to pollinate tomatoes. The pollen is active on different plants at different times of the day from what I understand, pollinator will correct me if I'm wrong. Things like squash and melons need to be pollinated in the early morning while their flowers are open, before they close up during the heat of the day. But with tomatoes it's a little later in the day before the pollen is active. Just try it at different times until you find the time that works best for you. You will actually see a yellow puff of pollen shoot out of the blossom when you buzz it if the pollen is active.

Also be sure to put a thick layer of mulch around your tomato plants, it will help with watering but it will also keep the roots cooler which will help keep your plant producing better/longer. You can also use shade cloth over them too, which can lower the temp up to 30 degrees depending on what quality shade cloth you use.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/2/2014, 1:50 pm

@camprn wrote:Pollinator, I posted a typo, I don't need a lesson in punctuation use, unless it's about semicolon. But thanks anyway.
By posting this link I am in no way endorsing this company.

http://bonnieplants.com/2011/07/tomato-plants-not-setting-fruit-heres-why/


http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/vegetables/TOMATO.html

Great link!

One thing I wonder about though, to change the subject a bit. I should go back into my class notes and check, but I've read somewhere that leaving tomatoes on the vine until well-ripened gives them a chance to make some final chemical changes that greatly increase flavor, whereas the aggie site linked suggests:

"A tomato picked at first sign of color and ripened at room temperature will be just as tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine."

... the opposite, which I've also read elsewhere.

I remain at present ... uncertain.


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Re: Tomato question

Post  rabbithutch on 7/2/2014, 3:38 pm

Thank you, TG!

I've not been successful yet at getting the puff of pollen out of my tomato flowers.  I was out at about 11:00 am and there was no dew and temp was not yet 90°.  I have not mulched this bed but might put mulch on just the tomato squares.  After these toms go, I will not have any more in this bed saving all the squares for herbs, radish and carrots.

I think I'll give the shade cloth a try.  Maybe get a bolt of tulle.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  yolos on 7/2/2014, 4:31 pm

@rabbithutch wrote:Thank you, TG!

I've not been successful yet at getting the puff of pollen out of my tomato flowers.  I was out at about 11:00 am and there was no dew and temp was not yet 90°.  I have not mulched this bed but might put mulch on just the tomato squares.  After these toms go, I will not have any more in this bed saving all the squares for herbs, radish and carrots.

I think I'll give the shade cloth a try.  Maybe get a bolt of tulle.

Tulle does not help with shade or temperature but does keep out insects.  I have never been able to get a puff of pollen out of a tomato flower no matter when I try.  I should get a tuning fork and see if that produces a puff of pollen.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  TxGramma on 7/3/2014, 10:06 am

I bought a set of tuning forks and tried them....nothing! Used an electric toothbrush and voila puffs of pollen from some not all of the blooms. I am going to keep trying with the tuning forks since I already bought them but if I can't get them to do any better than before then I will just stick to using the toothbrush.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  rabbithutch on 7/3/2014, 11:55 am

I bought a tuning fork that turned out to be too high a frequency and too small; so I ordered another one very close to middle C (~260 Mhz?).  I don't have an electric toothbrush but I might fix that when I go out later today.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  Yardslave on 7/4/2014, 3:02 pm

There aren't too many tomatoes that will set fruit when the temp rises above 90 degrees. Shade them, and try to make sure the MM doesn't dry out too much- what fruit you have may split. Their problem isn't with the soil temp, it's the actual air temp that shuts them down. I planted heat tolerant, indeterminant, short season seeds from Florida strains and a strain I ordered from a vendor in Las Vegas, Nev. in hopes that I can get a crop in before the mercury rises well above 100 in August and September. It's getting hard to keep up with the climate changes-my Zone went from 8/9 to 9b/10 this since last year.

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Re: Tomato question

Post  kamigh on 7/6/2014, 3:20 pm

I ended up taking it out this morning.  I looked carefully and it didn't have any more flowers so I decided to cut bait.  Plus I got an email from my local nursery this weekend saying that their fall tomato plants have arrived, so it helped push me over the edge.  I grew my own seedlings in the winter for spring, but with vacation coming up I just didn't think I could devote the time and energy into starting my own seedlings for fall planting.  I'll get a few things from the garden centers and direct sow some other stuff.
Thanks for all your responses.  I appreciate the info but since I leave for work early in the morning and do most of my gardening in the evenings and on weekend mornings, there is no way I'm going to do all the tuning fork/electric toothbrush pollinating!  I have to leave that to the bees  Smile

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Re: Tomato question

Post  Pollinator on 7/7/2014, 12:08 am

@rabbithutch wrote:I've not been successful yet at getting the puff of pollen out of my tomato flowers.  I was out at about 11:00 am and there was no dew and temp was not yet 90°. 

You may be getting it, without seeing it. The light has to be just right for the pollen to be visible - it is so fine.

I always try to get the sun behind the pollen "puff" to make it visible.

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