Confused - no tomatoes in hot summers?

lilacs_of_mayJune 26, 2008

I just read a thread in the vegetable forum that has me confused and distressed. Tomato blossoms don't set when the daytime temperatures get above 90, so...you don't get tomatoes.

But here on the Front Range -- and for that matter most of the Great Plains, south, and Midwest -- summer temperatures are almost always above 90 during July and August and part of June as well. And you can't grow tomatoes any time other than summer because tomatoes can't take the cold.

So that would indicate that getting tomatoes is impossible during the summer, the only time tomatoes can grow.

Huh? So how are people getting tomatoes?

Mine started flowering a week ago, and I admit I haven't seen any tomatoes forming.

Someone with much more gardening experience than I have want to shed some light on this? (Light but not heat, apparently.)

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dafygardennut(5b-ish, CO)

I was watching an episode of Garden Sense on DIY and the host pointed out that in the heat of summer, when tomatoes have flowers but stop forming fruit, you can tap the flower cluster a few times to release the pollen and "make" them produce since they are self pollinators. I don't know whether it's true or not, but it's something I intend trying.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 6:42AM
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lilacs_of_may

I've heard about that, "thumping" tomato plants to get them to self-pollinate. I've been doing that, but I guess I'll do some more thumping and maybe a little shaking, too.

I know people get tomatoes in summer, and summer's are usually hot, so they've got to set fruit somehow.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 6:45AM
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david52_gw

There is some interaction between humidity and temperature. For me, anyway, with the low humidities we have here, the upper temp limit is about 95ºF, and then nothing, even peppers, will set fruit. But right now, we're in the 90-92º range, with 50ºF at night, and they're all flowering and setting on fruit.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 10:10AM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Lilacs, I agree with David. We don't have the humidity problems many places do, but once it gets above 95 they drop their blossoms often. There are more heat tolerant varieties that withstand it better -- Thessoloniki is one. The cherries seem to do well in high heat. Be patient. :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 1:32PM
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elkwc(6b)

I agree with jaliranchr and David. I do take a broom everyday to my sprawlers and shake the cages hard on my caged ones and have fair fruit set last summer even with days in the 100's. Windbreak and shade also helps I've found. But anytime temps. top over 95 and night temps. are mid 70's or above set will suffer. Just part of living here. I always grow more than I can use so don't worry much. Yes the smaller tomatoes will set better. And some just take the heat better. JD

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 11:22PM
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lilacs_of_may

The last couple of days I've been going out and giving the stems of my flowering tomatoes a small but vigorous shake. I don't know if it was that, or if it was just the natural course of things, but today I noticed that I have an Opalka tomato! It's just forming, a half inch long oblong, but it's definitely a tomato.

Surprises me that the Opalka beat the other varietes out the gate. The Roma is flowering more profusely, and the Sausage is much bigger than any of the others, but oh, well, it's a tomato.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 8:35PM
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buttons_colorado(4a)

There's also a spray you can get that you spray on the flowers. It helps them fruit.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:00AM
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lilacs_of_may

I now have one Opalka, two Romas, and one Sausage tomato forming.

And the temperatures have been consistently above 90 degrees.

I've seen that spray advertised. I'd like to get it, but money's tight right now.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 5:34AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Lilacs, it's ironic that the only tomato plant you lost was the one in the ground, and the only one I lost to cutworms (I think) was in a container. Go figure. Maybe it's because I put wooden skewers alongside the stems of the ones in the garden, but neglected to do that with my container. Anyway, I've got flowers on my Opalka, Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, Sungold, and Black Cherry, but no tomatoes yet. Our temps have been in the low 90's for about 2 weeks now. Can't wait to see that first little baby tomato growing!

Bonnie

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 1:27PM
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meteor04(5-Northglenn CO.)

I really need to quit posting things like this or you lot are gonna chase me up a tree and set fire to it.

Anyway, went out to check the garden when I got home from work tonight, and found these 2 cuties on the pink Brandywine...

The reason I found this pretty cool...It means all 8 of my tom plants now have greens, and all have multiples. The recent high temps haven't affected my toms at all.

I'm trying to figure out what I did different this year that has everything going bug nuts out there. Actually the spagehtti squash isn't doing so great.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 9:20PM
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lilacs_of_may

Nice looking tomatoes! (Did that sound slightly risque? *g* )

I now have 10 little tomatoes forming, 4 Roma, 4 Sausage, 1 Opalka, and 1 Black Plum. I noticed on the Opalka, though, naked stems where the blossoms were, like the blossoms dropped off or were nipped off. Because of the heat, maybe? The Opalka is the only one in a black pot. I've been shaking the plant stems almost every day, but we've had enough wind lately that I think that's doing plenty of shaking.

How often should I fertilize my tomatoes? I mixed in some time-released fertilizer when I potted them up. That was about 4-6 weeks ago. Almost two weeks ago, I watered them with Miracle-Gro tomato food. It's been so hot, though, that I've been watering them almost every other day, so I'm wondering if that's leaching the fertlizer out.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 9:06PM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

I have seen the same heat issue with tomatoes. What I have done for the past two years, with great success, is start tomatoes from seed in January and plant them using Wall O Waters in March. Following the weather closely, I seal (with rubber binders) the WOW tops at signs of snow, then remove the binders when snow clears. This system allows the plants to develop a root system earlier, in turn generating fruit earlier. Doing this, we have ripe fruit in June. Assembling WOWs and planting in March can be a chilling experience, so I time the planting day when it's warmer (Denver). I use a Home Depot bucket with the end cut out to hold the WOW erect and then I can complete the project alone. Learning from experience, I recommend turning over beds in the fall and placing landscape fabric before planting day in the spring - helps to keep the soil warm. I cut the fabric just big enough to plant, remove dirt, place the bucket over the hole, insert plant, fill WOW and remove bucket. Perhaps my method tricks the plants because I end up with ripe fruit in June and the plants continue to bear enough fruit for my family through the heat, with a huge harvest at the end of the summer.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 8:21AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Thank you Austinnhanasmom, for the step by step instructions on the WOWs! I bought a package of them this year, but didn't sow the tomato seeds until mid-March. By the time they were big enough to transplant outside, the WOWs weren't even needed, so I never got to try them out. At least I will know how to do it for next year.

So far, the temps have not affected tomato production. At least half of my plants have several baby tomtoes, and the other half is just now starting to flower. However, this week temps are in the upper 90's, so we'll have to wait and see if the new flowers set fruit.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:50AM
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lilacs_of_may

In this week's upper 90 temps, all of my plants were wilty and sad looking. Heck, *I* was wilty and sad looking from the heat. My Opalka still has trouble with blossom drop, but my Sausage, which is in the square foot success kit, is 3 feet tall and has 11 developing tomatoes on it. I have 7 plants in all that have flowered (out of 10), and 4 of them have set fruit.

And oddly enough, my San Marzano seedling indoors is finally doing something. I planted it at the same time as several other tomato seeds. It sprouted, but became a 2 inch long stem with the little seed still at the top. It remained that way for over a month. I kept watering the stem, and finally this past week I see a little leaf coming from the top.

I lost my Saucy Paste to the heat, though (moment of silence).

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 3:33AM
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