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Is it too hot for my tomatoes?

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I live in a NE Washington State with a very short growing season. Like July and thru Sept. if we are lucky. I have my tomatoes in a hoophouse with visquine covering it. It gets up to 100 degrees in there some days. Is this good for the tomatoes, or too hot?

I have the ends open for bees etc. but hardly any bees. Is it too hot? There are a lot of blossoms on the tomatoes but only one fruit. Should I take the plastic off? It does reflect the light which we have very little due to the mountains and trees. It's kind of a toss up in my mind.

However, even tho I plant a lot of flowers, and I do not use sprays, I have few bees. I live in an area where there is no spraying. so, what is the problem? I do not have enough nectar to raise honey bees (hives) myself. Please help me, I really want some good tomatoes this year.

The average temperature outside the hoophouse, is around 80 maybe. A few days in the mid 90s.

Yorktown, VA(Zone 7a)

Jnette,

I am far from an expert, but I am curious why you have the tomatoes in a hoop house. The outside 80 degree range is just about perfect for tomatoes. 100 degrees is definitely too hot! Anything above 90 and mine seem to slow way down.

Also, I am somewhat curious how much pollination you will get in there since it is covered. Even though the ends are open, I am not sure how effective the bees will be at finding the flowers. :)

As for the light, in my opinion, if the plants have got this far in the hoop house while covered, I would imagine there is plenty of light for them without it.

Hope this helps!

Jeff

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Tomatoes are self pollinating so you don't need bees they pollinate by wind. Wondering why you have them in the hoop house also? They can set fruit when it's that hot but I'm sure the hoop house increases the humidity which greatly decreases fruit set. If it was 80 * here I would have my tomato plants outside, like Jeff said that's the perfect temp.

Yorktown, VA(Zone 7a)

1lisac,

I stand partially corrected. I feel a bit silly as I shake my tomatoes whenever I walk past to help them out so I am not sure why I got bees in my head for them.

I am sure the hoop house is blocking the wind, so that could definitely affect pollination and fruit set.

I have not had much luck with fruit set over 90 degrees, probably the humidity here in Virginia as you said.

Jeff

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy Jnette. (Long time, no see! Hope you are doing well.)

As others have mentioned, no bees/insects required to pollinate your plants. However, 100 is too high for pollen viability so you really should remove the plastic to cool it off in there. Is it possible to raise the plastic on both sides (not just the ends) so it allows more air to flow thru, not trapping it as well as removing the overall greenhouse affect?

I'm also wondering why kind of tomatoes you're growing. Only the variety that are bred for pollinizing in high heat would give you an ounce of a chance in those conditions. And yes, as Lisa mentioned, excess humidity in the g-house would contribute to a lack of pollination also.

If your blossoms are falling off, high heat/humidity (in your situation) would be the culprit. Your one fruit is probably the result of when your summer was much cooler and you had a better chance. I wouldn't give up though, you still have plenty of time to get a crop; you'll need to cool them off though.

Hope this helps.
Shoe

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I have them in the hh because so much of the time it is way below 80. Like tomorrow is suppose to be 59. Never know from one day to the other. Night temps are in the 40s.

That is why the hh. There is no way I can keep taking it off and putting it on at night. It is 20 feet long, 8 ft high and wide.

When I first plant the first ones in late May, I lost them to frost. Had to buy new plants.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Hi Shoe!! No, my blossoms are not falling off. Just not getting any fruit. Ok, even tho the night time temps are in the 40s I guess that will be best to take the plastic off. Sure hope I don't get frost.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Hmmm...you may want to rig your hh so the sides roll up and down. Many folks do that here with grow tunnels and such. Rolling the sides up on hot days allows a convection air flow, really helping to drop the temps. That way in the evening you can easily roll them back down, keeping them warmer at night.

Wow...your days really fluctuate with temperature! I had no idea. I'd hate for you to slow down the growth by exposing them to 40 and 50 degree nights.

Shoe

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Well, I can tell you right now, that's not going to happen. I can open the ends and turn a big fan on during the day. That is the best I can do.

Either that or decide which would be better, the plastic on or off?

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Well, that fan would sure help, both in moving air as well as helping to pollinize those flowers. A shadecloth might be nice, too, eh?

Next year we'll figure out how to put your tomato plants on wheels so you can wheel them out and back in as needed. :>)

Shoe

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

LOL Shoe that would be nice. I raised one side of the plastic up (rolled it up) about 4 feet and got the temp down to 77 with the fan too, but now the sun is out and on it so it is up to 87 again. 88 now. I sure like this remote thermometer but I do go crazy trying to grow tomatoes.

I have the tomatoes planted in alfalfa bales. They really are looking good if they would just get some red balls on them.

When you figure out how to put them on a farm wagon and move them in and out, let me know. : 0)

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Jeff your not corrected. Tomatoes don't need insects to pollinate but they can help.

Jnette-you said the blossoms aren't dropping, but they aren't setting fruit. Are the plants not blooming? That could be a whole other issue. I didn't realize you were growing in alfalfa bales, I'm wondering if the nitrogen may be too high, causing the plants not to bloom. Alfalfa is high in N.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

1lisac my tomatoes are loaded with blossoms. We have such a short season is why I have them in the hh. If I didn't, and they grew nice tomatoes, they would not have any flavor with no sun or heat. Therefor, the hh. Our season is not only short, we don't have a very warm one. We just might get a week of over 90 degrees, but not all at once. A day here and there. An unusual summer might be over 90 in a row of a week.

I think the fruit needs sun and heat to have any flavor. You can have ripe tomatoes with no flavor.

Anyone have any answer to how to get some tomatoes on my plants?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Ok I'm confused. If the blossoms aren't dropping but they're not setting fruit then where are they going? Once they bloom if they don't set fruit they drop off at least that's my understanding.

I get why you have a hh but now that you mentioned that you are growing in alfalfa Bales I think you may have to much N. Whenever I hear great looking plants but no fruit that's my first thought, after heat and humidity are taken into consideration, but these two factors don't seem to be constant for you. High N can cause plants not to bloom or drop their blooms.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

The blossoms seem to be staying on the plant as long as they would if they were setting fruit. I thought whoever said it meant that the blossoms were dropping without opening etc. Not so. Therefore, I don't think it is too much nitrogen. No, the blossoms are big beautiful things.


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Wouldn't that indicate insufficient pollination? Which would be likely with no breeze to stir the blossoms. Like Jeff said earlier, I tend to walk by the maters and shake them as a greeting. I like them growing up a cattle panel so I can shake the panel and do a row of them.

I learned something here... didn't know the ill effect of humidity on the blossoms. Thanks.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Pod, my hoophouse is made of cattle panels. Don't you love them? I have had it up about 5 years now. Only had one problem with it and that was when we left the cover on one winter and the snow piled up and then turned to ice. Then it snowed again and that turned to ice. About 4 layers of that and it was so heavy they caved in.

Bob had to take each one down, 5 of them, individually and lay them flat in the driveway and walk on them to flatten them out again and put them back up. No trouble since.

We don't have a lot of humidity here but I suppose it might be more in the hh. With both ends open and the fan on tho, I don't see how it could be.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I am fond of cattle panels for all kinds of things. Thankful too that I am not blessed with that kind of snow!

I suspect if you bought plants locally, they are not a variety that is suited to the hot type of climate that you have created.

Can you shake your plants daily and see if that improves pollination?

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I will try. I counted 4 tomatoes today, all on the same plant. Didn't see any on others.

Did find one tomato with a lot of aphids. They had spread to a few leaves on the plants on either side of it. I took the leaves with the most on them off and some on the other plants also. Then I blasted them with the hose. Hope I didn't scatter them to all of the plants. I might try Al's alcohol treatment on the aphids for a few days if I have to. Saw one lady bug on them but she won't be able to eat all of them.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

If someone posted this already pardon, but indoors over the winter I took a brand new very soft sable paintbrush and "painted" the flowers on my citrus/navel orange tree. There were dozens of flowers and they kept falling off/not setting fruit.

After I did this, the flowers stopped falling, and fruits, dozens of them, began to develop. The plant itself knows how many fruits it can handle, methinks. I only have 4 that stayed on the plant and they are the size of golf balls. Last year I moved it outdoors, but the birds knocked the fruit off so it's staying where it is this year.

If you have the time/patience to do this with your 'maters you may have some success too.

A.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

LOL, then my tomatoes must be telling me they can't handle ANY fruit. Guess I will go yank them all out and throw them on the compost pile.

I have enough green around here with trees etc. than water and tend something that isn't going to give me a salad once in a while. Just a lot of little yellow flowers.

Sorry Amanda, don't think that's my problem.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

"Sorry Amanda, don't think that's my problem."

Ditto here. Amanda, tomato flowers are self-pollinizing and don't require moving pollen from one flower to another. Air/wind, vibration is enough to pollinate them and they'll oftentimes become pollinated before they even fully open.

Jnette, I'm getting curiouser and curiouser...what variety of tomatoes do you have?

I'm still of the mindset that you'll get tomatoes when the temps allow. And with your cool nights I bet that could be happening at some point. The high temps and no humidity (or low humidity) shouldn't have too much effect on the newer flowers which could pollinize before the hot daytime temp kicks in. Best time to go jiggle your plants would be in the morning before it gets to warm in there.

As for aphids, spray your plants with some fish emulsion and/or kelp spray. They hate that stuff but your plants will love it!

Shoe (feeling like Jnettes tomato plants, too hot here today!)

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Shoe - then this driveway concrete ebucket garden thing is not going to work for me. The driveway runs the length of the house to the back yard bounded by the house on one side and the neighbor's cinderblock retaining wall. I could move the plants out towards the road more - but we would both have to park on the street then! I'm willing to do it if improving air circulation to perhaps reduce some of the ambient heat will result in more successful tomato plants.

Whaddya think?

A.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

This all seems more complicated that it should be. A gentle breeze will pollinate tomatoes- and unless the humidity stays so thick it prevents movement of pollen, they should do just fine without your interference-

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Well I don't know much about maters - I'm the first to admit, but in the hoop house with no air moving about . . . anyway.

Best leave this up to the experts. :D

A.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Last summer when we had a prolonged heat wave my tomatoes wouldn't set fruit. Only when the heat wave broke did I start getting little tomatoes. Although they are a warm-climate plant, even tomatoes have their limits!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I don't believe in "experts", Amanda. :>)

But yes, as Jo mentioned, it doesn't take much breeze to pollinate a tomato flower and I'm sure under your conditions you'll get that. No need to move anything. And if you get nervous just go out there and wiggle the plants a bit in the mornings. I sometimes do that for my g-house tomatoes (but then again I also tell them tall tales, dance a jig, and speak in gibberish to them to help with the entertainment factor in their lives). *grin

Shoe

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

shoe- you have waaay too much free time!!!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Heheheh...you got me grinnin', Jo! :>)

But, but, but...isn't it important to entertain and make things (people/plants/rocks and dirt) feel welcome? *grin

Shoe (off to pick some cowpeas)

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

LOL, maybe that's my problem. I yell at them instead of singing and dancing.

Well, before I read all this about shaking them in the morning, I did it this afternoon so knocked all the pollen off.

Oh gosh Shoe, I have a dozen plants and only a couple of them are duplicates. Early Girl, Early Bush Beef Steak, Yellow Pear, Mortgage Lifter, German Johnson, Parks Whopper, Jelly Bean, Oregon Spring, Celebrity

can't remember the others. JB and GJ and possibly ML were dups. Can't see anything in those that are werid.

I think they will get tomatoes on them but the season won't be long enough to ripen any. Just like last year. Because of the cold June they didn't grow. Didn't ripen any. The little ones yes. That was all.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Ok, I have decided I am giving them too much water. Killing them with kindness. They have no reason to put fruit on. Don't know it is getting late in the season. So, I am going to hold back on the water and see if that doesn't help.

Here is a picture of them and sorry about the weeds. Oh, since I took this picture I took the plastic all the way off of the hh.

Thumbnail by Jnette
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Ok, here is a picture of my first garlic I dug. Sorry, it is on my lap. Not very big, but smells soooo good.

Thumbnail by Jnette
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

See these cute little ends? I think they call them scapes. They look like they have had hair rollers in them.

Thumbnail by Jnette
Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from Horseshoe :
"Sorry Amanda, don't think that's my problem."

Ditto here. Amanda, tomato flowers are self-pollinizing and don't require moving pollen from one flower to another. Air/wind, vibration is enough to pollinate them and they'll oftentimes become pollinated before they even fully open.

Shoe


At one time (not sure it's still done) in some hydroponic operations they would actually use vibrators to briefly touch the flowering clusters to pollinate the plants. I heard it was pretty much standard practice among some professional growers.

-Rich

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks Rich - I'd forgotten about the hydroponic issue. When Shoe was asking about the air circulation in the hoop house, I thought that's where he was going. My navel orange, kept inside this year, was not doing it's own thing so well.

Maybe with the plastic off and less water, she will start to see some blooms.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Shoe - can't wait to stop by unannounced one of these days and catch you unawares doing a jig among your tomatoes. :D

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Wait a minute guys, I don't understand.

If the vibrations and shaking were not moving the pollen from one flower to the other, what were they doing? Isn't that what they sometimes refer to as pollinating?

Amanda, don't you know that is dangerous in some areas: Showing up unannounced and spying on people? LOL, who knows what Shoe will be doing, and what state of dress/undress he may be in? LOL, what about it Shoe?

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Jnette! Shhh...don't give away my secret garden attire! :>) As folks know I despise shoes so my feet are always naked. As for the rest of me, in the summer I prefer fig leafs, in the winter a hat.

As for tomato pollination, the wind/vibration doesn't tend to move pollen from one flower to another but rather from the male part of the flower to the female part of the same flower. This is why vibration also works. And by the way it is not just hydroponics but also greenhouse grown tomatoes where vibration methods come into play. Some years ago electric/battery powered toothbrushes were used; those would still be useful if you want to try that.

Shoe...home from the mkt with just enough tomatoes left to send to Jnette!

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Gee Amanda, maybe you did have a good idea.

My tomatoes Shoe, are you going to throw them? OR???

LOL, does each tomato plant want it's own toothbrush?

Oh, so the pollen has a shorter distance to go? Or did you mean the whole male part to the female part, and that then the pollen results in little baby tomatoes?

Who said this forum was not a lesson of the birds and the bees?

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I did think about what I might be sneaking up on, but this is a family forum (?) so I kept my mouth shut.

Jnette - one of my brothers went through a phase where he found these battery operated toothbrushes and I have a drawer full of them if you need. :D



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