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Just Whisper
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Location: Pensacola FL

Need good tomato variety for hot humid climate

As I mentioned in my introduction, I am in NW Florida (Pensacola). I have been gardening here for 9 years. My tomatoes (as well as most other veggie plants) have never done well here. In other states I have grown beautiful huge tomatoes so I am sure it is something I am NOT doing correctly in this environment. I have tried many different varieties, tried planters, raised beds, hanging baskets, different types of soil amendments, etc. I just can't seem to get it right. I have friends in Pensacola who grow beautiful tomatoes but they are a little further north. The climate changes drastically in very few miles here.
Here are my basic conditions:
I live about 1/2 mile from the coast, sandy soil, average summer temps range from about 80-90 degrees, very little rainfall.
Here is what I am getting from plants:
Leggy, viney, few tomatoes, small tomatoes, spotty, split, rotted, plant vines look yellowish-brown with nodules all over them.

Could it just be the intense heat? What would be the best variety to get nice large tomatoes (Beefsteak style) that are sweet? Anyone else live in high heat areas getting good results?

One more thought here after reading some other posts. I usually have several varieties and they are always planted near each other or, if in pots, set close to each other. Could this cause cross-pollination resulting in poorly producing plants?
Thanks. Melissa

grannygreenthumb
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Location: Arkansas

I am sure it is something I am NOT doing correctly in this environment. I have tried many different varieties, tried planters, raised beds, hanging baskets, different types of soil amendments, etc. I just can't seem to get it right.
It sounds as if you have tried everything but the one thing that might help - changing your planting times. :D

I have a number of close friends that garden in your area and to a man (or woman) they all admit that the hardest thing for them to learn was that growing seasons - you have 2 - are very different than anywhere else in the country. From all they tell me and from all I have read about gardening in southern Florida, "summer" is NOT gardening time there - late winter into spring and fall into early winter is.

So if you are still using the "when to plant" philosophy you learned living elsewhere in the country it needs to be given up. Contact your local county extension office - Florida has really good ones - for recommendations, check in with the local Master Gardener program for even more suggestions, and plan to plant your tomatoes in late January to early February as weather allows.

Good luck with your gardening.

Granny
If God didn't mean us to garden <i>she </i>wouldn't have created dirt.

damethod
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Location: Miami, FL

Beautifully put gardengreenthumb. Florida planting times differ greatly from our friends up north. Commercial Tomato, Pepper, and Strawberry farms here in South Florida plant their crops in late October. I planted my tomatoes in October and posted pictures here the other day. "Black Plum Tomatoes". All my tomato pepper plants are growing and producing well right now.

It does get pretty cold in Pensacola, so you may want to start your tomato plants indoors about the second week of November. Your plants should be ready to go outside right around now.(Early January)

damethod
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As for your cross pollination question... I believe it will not affect the production or fruit quality of the current plants. However, the seeds in those fruits will not be true to the parent. They will probably be a cross with whatever is close by. So, if you plant THOSE seeds, you may not get a good plant.

Please, correct me if I am wrong. Anyone know more on the subject?

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Just Whisper
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Location: Pensacola FL

Thanks for the advice on planting times. I usually put my "summer" plants in the ground around March/April. Any earlier than that and they are still subject to freezing. I also tried to grow tomatoes this fall. They were doing great...right up until the day they froze. We had heat lamps on them but it didn't save them. I guess I will have to do like you suggested...start my plants indoors earlier than usual, over winter, so they will be more mature when I plant them outdoors. Maybe then they will produce fruit before it gets so hot and kills them. I can't put them in the ground this early as we can get freezes as late as April here, but i do risk planting as early as March sometimes. Another thing I might try this year, that worked for my beans last summer, was to cover them with a thin guazey fabric like a tent. They only got indirect sun and grew like crazy.

Well, keep those great suggestions coming. I REALLY appreciate it and it is giving me things to think about :D [/u]

petalfuzz
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I am not an expert by any means with regards to your area geographically. However, I've come across two varieties of tomatoes that are supposed to set fruit very well even in hot weather: they are

Solar Set VFF Hybrid
A heat-tolerant variety developed by the University of Florida. Sets fruit well even in high temperatures (92 degree day; 72 degree night) and high humidity. Because there is such good set, plants yield very large amounts of fruit. Bright red tomatoes are 8 to 9 ozs. with a delicious, full tomato flavor. Great for a fall crop in areas where weather permits. Determinate. 70 days.

Sun Leaper VFF Hybrid
A heat-set variety released from North Carolina State University, this variety sets plenty of fruit even when night temperatures are high. Slightly flattened tomatoes are large, about 9 ozs. and firm with very good flavor. This variety's attributes include bright red color, smooth fruit, and less cracking than other varieties. Determinate. 69 days.

text copied from [url]https://www.tomatogrowers.com/index.html[/url]

Good luck!

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Just Whisper
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Thank you Carolyn, I will check those out. Sounds hopeful.

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hendi_alex
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I've not tried them yet but ordered Solar Set and Solar Fire, both supposedly heat tolerant varieties from tomatogrowers.com. I'll try planting some of them for a target crop in late July and August to see if they do better than my usual varieties.

totallytomato.com is also a great source for tomato seeds, and their prices are much lower than from tomatogrowers.com. You may want to check their site as well.

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Just Whisper
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I guess it will be awhile ,but I will be anxious to see how they do. Let me know if you remember that far away. LOL Thanks Alex.

coughy
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Hi Just Whisper...I also live in Pensacola not so far inland and I think I know what it is that you're saying....Last years summer season was kinda drought riddled and then full rains for the fall....but I had abandoned my garden after July because my tomatoes were drying up quickly but they were an eye full to see in their splendor...I used two different types for the larger varieties ...a heirloom called brandy-wine and another I think it was better boy or something close to it. Anyways, in my previous years I was full of disappointments but found it to be a problem heat related.

Last summer in '09 I started about in mid-March and placed about 7' wide by 12' long polyethylene above two rows of my tomatoes and always held in mind to where the sun shines down on in the most intense hours of the day. Of course some caging will be necessary as 7'-9' tall was no problem. Brandy-wine heirlooms were quite robust and somewhat rugged looking too and my tomatoes looked identical to those sold in the local Albertsons @ $4.99/lb. They called them ugly tomatoes in the stores for the look they had similarity to beefsteak varieties. I think this method should work for all types or varieties.....but I probably over watered them some doing it twice daily, once in the morning and once again late afternoon but they didn't seem to care.... lot's of the cabbage bugs were prodding my gorgeous tomatoes later in the summer so I had enough fruit by that time and also trying to fight the plastic tarp from coming down three times was getting old; but I thinking on doing again for the win....

The June heat is just so intense in our parts but you have to be very careful that they don't grow too close(e.g. like the years before for me) because they will rot before you realize it and then having to discard most of the growth....I think in full sun that the only types that ever came over well for me were of the jellybean variety..very few indeed were harvested and was hardly worth the effort.. Basically ...I'm saying they need a couple hours of shade in the most critically hot part of the day. First hand I know this and live in your area. The Alberson's I used to shop is no longer there now. The poly tarp required some invention and persistence but big and wonderful tomatoes is what I got with only natural and organic means using the same sandy soil that's accustomed here. I never had to fertilized except one time before planting.

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Just Whisper
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I finally had success

Thanks coughy.

I tried Brandywine this past summer. Of all my tomato varieties they did the poorest for me last year. And it may have been because you and i grew our plants differently. But mine just got real leggy and produced no tomatoes at all.

Here is what I discovered this summer. I cannot grow vegetables in my yard. All my plants start out beautifully. They get big and look so healthy and just filled with blossoms. Then they die. Either from the heat, bugs or mildew.

Here is what else I discovered. I CAN grow vegetables in containers, which I have tried before, but only if I keep them OUT of my yard. Because even in containers they are still susceptible to the bugs, heat and diseases. So i put all my containers up on my cement pool patio against the house where they got protection from the wind and intense downpours we get. When the summer sun started getting too intense I would put up a garden tent and shade them. I still had a very minor caterpillar problem but managed to keep it mostly in check. And my plants had almost no diseases. The diseases they did get started on the plants closest to the yard and spread slowly. So I was able to control it. I had tons of tomatoes until around the end of July. By then it wasn't just the sun but the actual heat that I could not control. Even watering twice a day, sometimes they would still dry out, and eventually it just got too hot for them to flower any more. But I was pleased that I had tomatoes for about twice as long as I have in past years, and larger ones, and more of them. And they were good. I think my Beefmaster and Better Boys seemed to do the best, plus our Super Sweet 100s.

Also, as suggested earlier by Granny, I put my tomatoes out a few weeks earlier than usual. I had always started earlier than I use to when I lived farther north. But this time I started putting mature plants out around early March, right after the "surprise" freeze we always have the first week, right after a week of 80 degree weather. LOL

Thank you all for the great advice. It was all very helpful. :D

tedln
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Justwhisper,

I grew tomatoes in southern Louisiana for many years. We had high summer heat and humidity. The lessons I learned were the following.

1.Plant early (usually in February)
2.Plant a variety which produces well in early heat and has some disease resistance. For me, the Better Boy hybrid seemed to work best.
3.Space the plants enough to allow good air circulation around each plant.
4.Plant far enough from large trees that you have no competition from tree roots. We had a lot of pecan trees, walnut trees, and oak trees. I always had to find a place that kept me away from the trees and received good sunlight all day.
5.Accept the fact that the spring planted tomatoes will eventually die from the mid summer heat and humidity and be ready to plant a heat resistant variety later in the summer for a fall crop.
6.Accept the fact that some years, weather simply prevents a garden from growing. I can't count the number of times the spring rains would continue so long, the roots of my entire garden would simply rot in the ground. I would simply replant when the rain stopped.

Good Luck

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

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Just Whisper
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Thanks tedln,

All good advice.

flgardenman
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Location: Orlando, FL

Re: Need good tomato variety for hot humid climate

Just Whisper wrote:As I mentioned in my introduction, I am in NW Florida (Pensacola). I have been gardening here for 9 years. My tomatoes (as well as most other veggie plants) have never done well here. In other states I have grown beautiful huge tomatoes so I am sure it is something I am NOT doing correctly in this environment. I have tried many different varieties, tried planters, raised beds, hanging baskets, different types of soil amendments, etc. I just can't seem to get it right. I have friends in Pensacola who grow beautiful tomatoes but they are a little further north. The climate changes drastically in very few miles here.
Here are my basic conditions:
I live about 1/2 mile from the coast, sandy soil, average summer temps range from about 80-90 degrees, very little rainfall.
Here is what I am getting from plants:
Leggy, viney, few tomatoes, small tomatoes, spotty, split, rotted, plant vines look yellowish-brown with nodules all over them.

Could it just be the intense heat? What would be the best variety to get nice large tomatoes (Beefsteak style) that are sweet? Anyone else live in high heat areas getting good results?

One more thought here after reading some other posts. I usually have several varieties and they are always planted near each other or, if in pots, set close to each other. Could this cause cross-pollination resulting in poorly producing plants?
Thanks. Melissa
I live in Orlando and can definitely appreciate what you are saying about growing tomatoes here. It can be quite challenging and, like you I lost my second crop due to the freeze we had in January.

Although I can't tell you now how well they produce here I am going to plant 8 heat tolerant tomato plants this season along with my others. They are called Heatwave ll. This will be the first year I will have tried them. I will try to remember and keep you posted on how they do.

billtyus
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Location: central florida

Re: Need good tomato variety for hot humid climate

flgardenman wrote:
Just Whisper wrote:As I mentioned in my introduction, I am in NW Florida (Pensacola). I have been gardening here for 9 years. My tomatoes (as well as most other veggie plants) have never done well here. In other states I have grown beautiful huge tomatoes so I am sure it is something I am NOT doing correctly in this environment. I have tried many different varieties, tried planters, raised beds, hanging baskets, different types of soil amendments, etc. I just can't seem to get it right. I have friends in Pensacola who grow beautiful tomatoes but they are a little further north. The climate changes drastically in very few miles here.
Here are my basic conditions:
I live about 1/2 mile from the coast, sandy soil, average summer temps range from about 80-90 degrees, very little rainfall.
Here is what I am getting from plants:
Leggy, viney, few tomatoes, small tomatoes, spotty, split, rotted, plant vines look yellowish-brown with nodules all over them.

Could it just be the intense heat? What would be the best variety to get nice large tomatoes (Beefsteak style) that are sweet? Anyone else live in high heat areas getting good results?

One more thought here after reading some other posts. I usually have several varieties and they are always planted near each other or, if in pots, set close to each other. Could this cause cross-pollination resulting in poorly producing plants?
Thanks. Melissa
I live in Orlando and can definitely appreciate what you are saying about growing tomatoes here. It can be quite challenging and, like you I lost my second crop due to the freeze we had in January.

Although I can't tell you now how well they produce here I am going to plant 8 heat tolerant tomato plants this season along with my others. They are called Heatwave ll. This will be the first year I will have tried them. I will try to remember and keep you posted on how they do.



i would plant in late jan or early feb for spring tomatos.you can get a variety of heat tolerant tomatos.but i use early girl cel tomatos.first you need to check your ph of the soil which is the acidity level 6.0to6.5 is ideal.if it is lower than 6 then add powder fast acting lime powder to increase it.then you need to keep you tomato plants trimmed as they grow.as soon as your fruit branches start to come out by the stock and between the branches.trim the branches just a few at a time to allow all nutrients to go to the fruit.once you het your plants when they about 2ft high use miracle grow tomato fertilizer every 7 to 10 days.apply on the ground not on the plant.this will cause your plants to produce up to 3 weeks earlier.do not use a sprinkler on tomato plants it causes them to become infected..soaker hoses work the best ot use a shower head setting on a nozzle and slowly water the soil around them..if you keep them trimmed and water and fertilizer you will end all your problems.and check your ph of the soil atleast every 2 years.if you gwt the fruit but the have end rot then you are lacking calcium.several products that work..if you want heat tolerant tomatos here are a few good ones.homestead,arkansas traveler,solar fire,sun tomatos. the list is endless.but there is some tricks for you to try.
:)

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