Tomato blossom hibernation after pollination

per2011(7)July 18, 2012

My understanding is that a tomato blossom is either pollinated (and than immediately begins the process of producing a tomato) or fails to pollinate and than dries up and falls off. Is there a 3rd scenario? Can tomato blossoms go into a state of hibernation after pollination (i.e. due to harsh conditions such as high heat/humidity or there being too many other tomatoes growing on the plant) and then come back to life and produce a tomato when conditions improve (better weather or pulling ripe tomatoes off of the vine)? I think this is what I am observing but I'm not sure. If this is what's happening, what is the process called?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Not that I know of or have ever heard of. What exactly is it that you are seeing? What makes you think this "hibernation" is happening?

Dave

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 2:56PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

True, blossoms are self pollenized when conditions are OK for that to happen, but if there's only been partial pollenization no new tomato starts developing.

At the base of each blossom you'll se a small green nub and that's the tomato ovary. Is that what you might be referring to? And once complete pollenization has occured then there's a sequence of events and hormones and enzymes, etc., that allows for that ovary to enlarge and start forming the tomato to be which now has the seeds to be within it.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 4:55PM
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per2011(7)

Dave and Carolyn thanks for the replies. It appeared to me that some blossoms were pollinated and the formation of the tomato was visible within a day or so. Other times (or so I thought) the formation of the tomato was not so immediate and didn't occur for a few days or until I removed a ripe tomato or 2 or a heat wave broke. I was thinking that the plants had a survival mechanism to increase the odds of survival of the fruit and seeds. I guess I am the victim of my own observation bias.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 5:33PM
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robeb_gw

Because of the extreme heat we've been experiencing here in my area, my plants have been producing their fruit within a different time frame than more normal seasons.

The blossoms pollinate, flowers begin to die off, and then it seems to take forever before I see the little green nub. But they are setting fruit, just at a much slower pace than usual.

This weather has definitely been testing my patience, but the fruit I've harvested so far has made the wait worthwhile.

per2011, is this what you've been experiencing?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 5:42PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It appeared to me that some blossoms were pollinated and the formation of the tomato was visible within a day or so. Other times (or so I thought) the formation of the tomato was not so immediate and didn't occur for a few days or until I removed a ripe tomato or 2 or a heat wave broke.

Then I would say that what you are seeing within a day or so is the ovary as Carolyn mentioned, not a tomato. That is too short a time frame to see actual fruit. It is more like 6 days. And the development of fruit after you remove a ripe one is just coincidental.

Good powers of observation though. :)

Dave

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 6:06PM
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per2011(7)

Ok, I think I was using the wrong terminology. Once pollination has successfully occurred, can the ovary itself go through a period of hibernation or suspended animation that would cause the "sequence of events and hormones and enzymes, etc., that allows for that ovary to enlarge and start forming the tomato" to be delayed due to environmental conditions? (boy, that's a mouthful). Maybe that's what I am experiencing?

Robeb, yes, that's exactly what I'm experiencing, but when I tried to search for an explanation for this phenomenon I came up empty which is why I started this thread.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 7:07PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

If fruit formation doesn't occur for one reason or another then the tomato ovary eventually tends to turn brown to black and that's that, as in RIP.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 7:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Once pollination has successfully occurred, can the ovary itself go through a period of hibernation or suspended animation that would cause the "sequence of events and hormones and enzymes, etc., that allows for that ovary to enlarge and start forming the tomato" to be delayed due to environmental conditions?

Nope. Sorry.

Dave

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:26PM
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tomahtohs

Wow! And I thought I was the only one who observed this behavior.

Per2011, I've seen the exact same thing (I think) and I'm glad somebody else has noticed it too.

Just to confirm: You see the blossom open, a few days later the blossom has faded, and the petals start to shrivel up. After the shriveling has finished, however, the ovary has swollen a tiny bit, but stops at a very small size. Some time later (days, even weeks) the ovary suddenly begins to grow normally and produces a tomato.

If that's what you're seeing, I've had that happen to me in years past as well as this year. I can't say exactly what causes it, but it seems like it occurs when the plant is already laden down with fruit, especially on the same cluster as the "hibernating" bloom. After some tomatoes ripen and are picked, the hibernation ends, usually. So the phenomenon must be caused by lack of free nutrients...?

Either way, I'm surprised so few people know about this. You guys need to pay attention to your plants! :/

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 7:56PM
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per2011(7)

Bingo Tomahtohs, that's it exactly! With all due respect to Dave and Carolyn- and I mean that sincerely as I've learned so much from their posts on this site- I think they possibly may be unaware of this particular tomato plant phenomenon. I'll keep this thread alive if I discover anything worth posting as my anal retentive nature will not let it die without a reasonable explanation.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 7:21AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

OK, here we go again. LOL

Complete self pollenization of a tomato ovary, or also accomplished by cross pollination , whatever, as long as all ovules in the tomato ovary are fertilized, then the small green nub called the ovary starts enlarging and about after a week or so you can see it start to enlarge and then it goes on to form a mature fruit.

If not all ovules in the ovary are fertilized by pollen, then that green nub does not enlarge and after a while turns a darker color and then RIP.

There's really no hibernation, as some have been calling it, it's just that the length of time after all ovules in the ovary have been fertilized is variable until the ovary starts enlarging and that's the confusing issue here.

And yes, from seeds taken from a single fruit there can be self pollenized ones that when sown give rise to the correct variety and seeds that are the result of cross pollination and yes, it's been found that up to four different kinds of seeds can be found within a single fruit due to self and cross pollination.

Temps and humidity have to be favorable for pollination to even occur in the first place but once that's happened then further weather related events are not going to wake up a tomato ovary out of "hibernation" and cause it to enlarge, etc.

Does that help? I sure hope so. ( smile)

Carolyn

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 8:05AM
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