Sunday, 1 June 2008

Pollination and Fruit Set

One of the most exciting moments in tomato growing is when the flowers fade and the first little pea-like fruit appear. Each day they grow until they reach their mature size, start to change colour and the first ripe tomato from a plant is almost too good to eat!

The problem is, for most tomato varieties, temperatures and humidity have to be right in order for flowers to create pollen and set fruit. If flowers fail to set, blossom drop is the result and those pretty little flowers are aborted by the plant.

For outdoor growers, there is little you can do if the weather is too cold for pollen production.
The trick is really to sow at the right time, that is so that flowering will begin when outdoor temperatures (hopefully) are likely to be right for pollination.

From seed to flower takes about two months, so if temperatures are good for pollination from the beginning of June onwards, you would sow at the beginning of April (my favourite time to sow).

Other weather related causes of blossom drop include air that is too dry and air that is too damp.

It's easier to deal with dry air as you can spray/mist plants to help flowers set their fruit. Hopefully, by the time humid weather arrives, it is well into the season and you have lots of tomatoes ripening.

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