No tomatoes on plants yet, why?

luvkukuMarch 28, 2011

My tomato plants are growing luxuriantly and look great, and are covered with flowers, but the only tomato I have found was on the plant when I brought it home from Lowe's. Does anybody know why this is? They are in a fertile raised bed with compost and new potting soil top-dressing, and there were no tomatoes, eggplant, or peppers in that area before.

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This comes up all the time in the tomato forum. The most common answer is to much fertilizer at the wrong time. To much at the wrong time and the plants grow big green and healthy leaves but with few fruit. When you transplant them they can take a little fertilizer. Then give them no more until after the fruit has set and is starting to grow.

If you used a pelleted fertilizer that feeds the plants for months and months and give them too much you may end up with few if any fruit unless you remove it.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 12:37PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

It's nitrogen that causes lush foliage without fruit. Another thing to consider is pollen, if you don't have any bees around, insects, birds, whoever does the pollenating, you will need to pollenate by hand. Some folks use an old toothbrush to touch various flowers thereby shifting the pollen from plant to plant.

I've also heard you can just shake the plant gently and that will stir up the pollen.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 1:52PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

those fine make-up and paint brushes work too ...

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:34PM
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Lots of bees around, so it has to be the fertilizer. I was so concerned about the soil being fertile enough in the raised bed that I fertilized it heavily before planting the plants.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 12:21PM
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mister_gin(z9 AZ)

If your getting a lot of flowers, then the fertilizer may not be the issue. I fertilize heavily to start and I still have lots of flowers. I'll usually flick the base of the flower cluster a few times to supplement the bees job. I'm not seeing a lot of bees around the toms yet, but I'm getting a lot of tomatoes. I think I ticked the bees off by removing my flowering broccoli plants. Even though my toms are covered in flowers they just don't attract the bees like the broccoli flowers do.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 1:25PM
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Like Mister Gin said, if you're getting a ton of flowers, too much nitrogen is probably not the issue - excess nitrogen usually leads to less flowers in general. If you're plants are healthy and are getting tons of flowers, it's probably an environmental issue (cool nights, high winds etc) or most likely just a variety thing. Some varieties just don't set fruit until they're ready. My Cherokee Purples and Reisentraube Cherries are setting fruit like Hillbilly and Hungarian Hearts are dropping blossoms. All my varieties are grown in the exact same way in the exact same soil.

Also, bees are not necessarily required for pollination. Tomatoes are self-fertile. Some disturbance to the pollen is necessary for it to fall onto the stigma/pistil but it's usually taken care of by the wind or a shake of the plants/flick of the blossom. I suggest flicking the blossoms when they are fully open in the morning/early afternoon. I have a feeling that in no more than a couple weeks you'll be getting fruit set.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 2:47PM
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So glad to think I may be getting tomatoes soon, since the nights out here have been quite cool. I knew about the tomatoes being self-pollinating and have shivered them frequently, as has the wind. Hopefully my fertilizer will pay off instead of prevent in the end, since it was all organic and mostly compost anyway.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 4:59PM
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You were so right. In the last few days I have found multiple tomatoes on 6 of my 7 plants, and I could easily take that one out if it doesnt start cooperating soon.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:07AM
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