Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Cherry Tomatoes - The First to Mature

Every season the race is on to see which variety matures first.

However, looking through the seed catalogues in the winter months provides the encouragement to select the earliest maturing variety just to see how soon I can be eating ripe tomatoes later in the season.

The first thing to note is that (in my experience) it is always the cherry tomatoes that mature first.

The next point is that it is not necessarily the variety with the shortest season that matures first, but the variety that sets its fruit at the coolest temperatures.

A plant can be waiting at the flowering stage with no sign of fruit set because the day and night temperatures are not conducive to fruit set.

Furthermore, some varieties will set fruit at cooler temperatures and it is only experience that can give you the knowledge of which is the earliest variety to set.

When you have a quick growing cherry variety that is cold tolerant and sets fruit at cooler temperatures, you have the earliest possible combination.

Of course the seed catalogues almost always say, this or that variety is early or cold tolerant but there is often a lack of information about early fruit set.

I've brought this subject up because this season many gardeners have reported that their plants have been slow to set fruit.

Fruit set or flower fertilisation occurs when day and night temperatures stabilise so that pollen reproduction can occur (usually June for most varieties). Sowing very early in the season could be a waste of time if you choose varieties that require higher temperatures to set their fruit.

Anyway ... after all that I managed to be eating Glacier cherry toms at the end of June from plants growing outdoors ... I'm happy with that!

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