this is driving me crazy- tomato seedings not getting true leaves

ameera(z11 Dubai)December 11, 2011

I am at my wits end with trying to grow tomatoes by seed this season.

I first planted tomato seeds in September, and since the day temperatures were averaging 100F I understand the extreme heat would kill most seedlings, as it did mine--except 2 seedlings-- Green Giant tomato and Cheyenne pepper.

I next planted seed in September when it was in the mid to upper 90s. A lot of this batch got damping-off and died, but of the ones that survived they are still seeming to do ok... except to this day they haven't gotten any true leaves!

I then planted seed on November 3rd. Plenty germinated by the 10th yet up until now only two seedlings have gotten true leaves (they are tiny true leaves, but at least something is progressing!)

Right now the daytime highs are averaging in the high 70s to low 80s and the nights are averaging the low 70s to high 60s.

I just planted even more new seed just to hope I have something in case all the other seedlings ultimately fail.

Out of all of the seedlings, the San Marzano ones have done the worst by far. All San Marzano Redorta seedlings died, and I have 3 Super San Marzanos that look find but they are from the October planting and should have long had true leaves by now shouldn't they?

I have been so crushed that I have been having such a hard time. I was dreaming I would already have established plants to pot up into their final pots by now and yet I only have one Green Giant plant (from the September seed planting) that looks ready to finally pot up to a nice large pot.

They are getting at least 9 hours of direct sunlight each day and I am leaving them in the full sun all day long. If it is the heat, do you think putting shade cloth over them will help?

Do they need all that sunlight in order to develop the true leaves or can I put them in the shade for part of the day?

I started seeds earlier this year in January and those did wonderfully... so since the temperatures are closer to the January temperatures now I am hoping that if these seedlings don't get their true leaves, that the new seed I planted will eventually.

I am not going to whine that it was a waste of time with all these seedlings failing...I will take it as learning experience for the future... but its sooooo frustrating to think I only have one established plant so far after all this time!

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

I next planted seed in September when it was in the mid to upper 90s. A lot of this batch got damping-off and died, but of the ones that survived they are still seeming to do ok... except to this day they haven't gotten any true leaves!

Then there is something seriously wrong if planted in Sept and still have no true leaves??? Most likely cause is over-watering leading to root rot and stunting. Either that or you potting mix is retaining too much water.

I note you seem to be focused on the air temps and honestly that is a minor concern with seedlings. Their focus is on root development so soil temp not air temp is more relevant. That and avoiding drowning. :)

Dave

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 8:15PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

And/or providing adequate water for the very shallow roots.

And/or beginning to fertilize when the baby leaves are flat out.

Are you starting the seed in containers? If so, what size and what do you use to fill the pots?

Oh yes, and how many hours of light per day?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 8:15PM
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euarto_gullible(5)

It does sound like overwatering or poor drainage. Do you have drainage holes in the bottom of the containers?
It could, however, be something completely unrelated.
A couple years ago I grew out some San Marzano from a trade. I grew 10 plants, and 4 of them grew their first set of true leaves and then stopped. The leaves became large and paddle-like.

I was almost at the point where I was going to throw them out, when they shot out small terminal buds, and they proceeded to grow normally. I planted several of them and they became large vigorous plants that produced tons of tomatoes.

Genetic disorder? Mechanical damage from breaking out of hard seed casings? Who knows.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 10:17PM
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tracydr(9b)

I would change seed starting medium. Also, are you reusing your cups? Are you bottom watering?
Take one of the seedlings out and see if it has any root development. I suspect it doesn't. I think the seed starting medium is somehow infected or compacted, maybe too wet or something.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 6:17PM
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HillbillyBob

yep feed them some weak fertilizer and they need 12 to 16hours of light a day use lamps about 2-4" above them

    Bookmark   December 27, 2011 at 12:01PM
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