Wilting tomato blooms?

kurbans(5)June 11, 2014

Hi all,
This is my first posting on this forum. Since I have started my garden, this is where I have come to get some insight as to what is happening in my garden, so I am excited to be a member and get some feedback!

So this is my first go of a garden in CO. When living in NC, I planted tomatoes with success, but have learned it is a bit different here in CO. I have planted Cherry Tomatoes and Big Boss tomatoes in a pallet garden (among other things). The tomatoes were doing really well and have started to blossom. I was getting excited about the plant fruiting, and have been closely watching a few specific blossoms on my plants to monitor their progress...

Well today I came home to find that the blossoms that I was monitoring have wilted and don't look like they will fruit. The petals had been bent back and looked primed for fruiting, but this is frustrating! There are still new buds forming, and everything else with the plant looks good, but I have never encountered this before. A quick Google search told me that it could be Blossom Drop - any one have any ideas?

Contributing factors could be: the weather has been getting to ~50F at night and >80F during the day. The pH of my soil is ~ 7. Also, it rained/hailed a lot on Sunday, so I hadn't watered until now (today is Wednesday). I have fertilized with 7-7-7. I have seen SOME bees, but not as many as I would expect for the number of flowers I have in my front yard.

The plant looks healthy aside from the wilting/shriveling blossoms. I am not one to throw in the towel, but would like to know whether or not my plants are doomed!

Any thoughts?
(Not the greatest pictures, but I think they get the point across. These blooms were open yesterday.)

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Here is an additional photo.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 11:20PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Welcome to the forum.

I think you'll be fine. Those blossoms still might form tomatoes, or possibly not. Blossom drop is when the whole flower falls off...breaks off at the little 'knee' area just above the blossom. Your plants look healthy. I know it's tough to be patient. Speaking of blossom drop, I have a Brandywine that is dropping blossoms like crazy, but I know it will set fruit eventually....just hard to watch.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 11:58PM
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Thanks for the response edweather - good to know it isn't blossom drop. Painful to watch, indeed.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 8:35PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Tomato flowers don't last long -- maybe only one day? -- before they are past the window for pollination.

If pollination hasn't taken place (for whatever reason), the blossom will fall within a few days. (Don't mistake the yellow petals falling for blossom drop. If the end of the stem -- the part with the green sepals -- breaks off at edweather's "knee": that's blossom drop.)

Unlike many other plants, tomatoes are usually self-pollinating. Many tomato flowers are shaped so that insects cannot access the pollen. Bees or other insects may be able to pollinate some tomato flowers, but pollination usually takes place without them.

However, if the air is particularly still, a bee or other insect investigating the flower may, by vibrating the blossom, shake pollen loose from the anthers onto the stigma. [Some GWebbers -- on the "Better safe than sorry" theory -- visit each of their plants daily and give the stem (or the stake or tomato cage) a little shake. Fans serve the same purpose in a windless greenhouse.]

Once a tomato flower has been fertilized, it will be several days before you notice the growing fruit.

But more than pollination may be needed: sometimes even after successful pollination, the plant isn't ready yet to support a growing fruit. Maybe the plant was too recently planted, and lacks a large enough root system. Or maybe it's a variety with a longer DTM (days to maturity) -- the average number of days from the time a tomato is set out in the garden until the first fruit ripens.

Temperatures too high can result in pollen that clumps, which will prevent pollination. Your daytime temps aren't too high yet; I'm not sure if the 50* nighttime temps are a problem.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 12:51AM
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