stephenc
Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:58 pm
Location: mid ark.

Blossoms no Fruit

Almost mid June in Arkansas, my Brandywine vines are over 5' tall, had blossoms for 5 weeks but no fruit have set. Any ideas? :?

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

That's been a common problem this year. I have noticed very few bees around this year which is a huge problem in North America. That could be a your culprit, try using a q tip to pollinate your plant.

For next year, but a bunch of Mason Bee boxes around your home and garden. Mason bees are excellent pollinators.
Feed the soil, not the plants.

Cuke
Senior Member
Posts: 115
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 1:19 am
Location: Midwest, US

Opa,how do you pollinate the tomato flower the Q-tip?I'm having the same problem and I don't want to lose too many more flowers.

User avatar
tomakers
Full Member
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2006 4:13 am
Location: Cranberry Country, SE MA - zone 6?

Tomatoes are basically self-pollinating. They WILL set fruit without bees, so it must be something else. What have your temperatures at night been like? They may not set above 85 degrees or under 65. I'm not sure of the exact range, but there are limits. You could try gently shaking your plants.
JMO,
Tom

doccat5
Green Thumb
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:48 pm
Location: VA

You might try spraying your blossoms and plants with some espom salts water. The magnesium will give them and extra little boost and help them absorb nutrients. Works well for peppers and squash as well.

1 teaspoon of epsom salts to 1 quart of warm water and mix well. Spray the blossoms and the whole plant.

Good luck!
doccat5

I'd rather be gardening!

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

That's interesting, I have never heard of tomatoes being self pollinating before. In fact the morphology of the flowers would depic otherwise but, I'll take if something works use it.

Anyway, to use a q tip just take a q tip and collect the pollen from the Anthers of one flower and dip it into the "cup" of the next flower (the style) and spread the pollen in down there.

We have a member in Alaska who grows tomatoes indoors and uses this method, works great.

But, we really need to be aware of this bee problem as well. Stop using products with the suffix -cide. And if you use Neem Oil only use once a week at most. Climate change is also involved as well as other factors luckily here, in Canada gas prices have shot through the roof so people are forced to stop driving so much but, use less carbon emmitting modes of transportation.
Feed the soil, not the plants.

nan1234
Full Member
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:17 am

I transplanted my tomato plants outside early this year when they already started blooming and the weather is still cold. Flowers start falling due to lack of pollinators (absense of bees).

Some types of tomatoes can be pollinated well by wind or shaking, but others do not. They release pollens in responding to viberations at a certain frequency only, which is usually the frequency of the bee's buzzing (bumble bees are the best pollinators to tomatos).

When I see this problem, I use an electric toothbrush (I use a type of Sonic Oral-B with three viberation modes and the middle mode is close to the frequency of bee's buzzing) to gently touch the flowser stems. During the viberation, I can even see pollens bursting out from the small hole of the flowers. Since then, no flowers fall, and magically, each turns into a fruit. I've already got some turn to red!

Tomato pollen is not in the exterior like most flowers, rather it resides internally and then released through pores in the anther. I don't see how q tip will work unless you do "surgery" to open the flower without hurting the inside structure? Motion is required to release the pollen, and the greatest quantity to be released is by sonication in certain frequency.

Tomato is originated in the highlands of the west coast of South America where a species of halictid bees were their native pollinators. As tomatoes were moved from their native areas, their traditional pollinators did not move with them. Domestic cultivars of tomato have been selected to maximize the trait of self-fertility, i.e., the capibility being pollinated by alternative ways such as in wind or shaking.

Shaking by wind will release pollen. But not all types of tomatoes respond to wind the same. Most commercially chosen types to grow for open air will respond to wind very well. But if you are growing those rare-to-find species, wind may not be enough (that is why they are not selected for commercial production).

The most effective pollination is to be vibrated at a specific frequency by the native halictid bees. Honey bees are unable to vibrate the tomato flower in this way, but bumble bees and some other native species can. The size of the fruit is dependent on the number of ovules fertilized. So we want to get pollination as full as possible. This is the reason the bee is best, it delivers the most grains of pollen, exactly where it is needed, on the sticky surface of the stigma. Even for species responding to wind well, according to research, bees can still significantly increase the productivity and you'll get bigger and juicier fruits.

Without bees, an electric toothbrush will do the trick - if you just grow a few tomato plants.

Too much water and too much nitrigon will result a lush foliage growth with less blossom and fruits, and produce less tasteful fruits and cause slow ripening. This is the typical mistake that many home gardners make.

Cool soil could also be the problem. Try to use black plastic sheet to cover the ground when the whether is still cool. Avoid watering in late afternoon. Instead, water them in early morning, so the soil can warm-up during the day. When the weather becomes hot, cover the ground with straws ot multch to prevent over-heating.

When use commercial sparying product to enhance fruit setting, be careful. Use it very sparingly. Too much spraying on the flowers may cause fruits deformed.

Cuke
Senior Member
Posts: 115
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 1:19 am
Location: Midwest, US

Thanks Opa,I will try that today.

I shook my tomato plants a week ago and several days ago because I remember someone posting a link to a website that said tomatoes are self pollinating so shake them if there's no tomatoes.So far I have 4 little tomatoes,but I'm sure I'll need to help out my tomato plants since I've only seen one bee and that was a month ago.

That's very interesting with the toothbrush,Nan.I have 6 tomatoes with a lot of flowers so that might also work.I will have to try these techniques.Hopefully this warmer weather will bring out the bees.

cheshirekat
Senior Member
Posts: 264
Joined: Tue May 13, 2008 3:13 am
Location: Denver, CO (zone 5)

Unless your tomatoes are in a closed greenhouse, you can encourage bees by offering other attractants. If they visit your yard for one thing and observe that there are other goodies, I am convinced they will return and tell their friends. I have four birdbaths and rarely can pass by any of them without seeing several bees, so I fill them with fresh water at least twice a day. I see bees (and wasps) all day long and until it's nearly dark outside.
"Love all God's creatures, the animals, the plants. Love everything to perceive the divine mystery in all." -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

nan1234
Full Member
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 3:17 am

I use toothbrush once a week. It takes me less than 10 minutes for ten tomato plants, and I've got lots of fruits on plants. When I use the toothbrush buzz on flowers, I can see the pollen dust.

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

From science shops you can buy black q tips that make it easier to see the pollen but, really don't go out of your way, I like to use regular ones. I tooth brush is a nifty idea.
Feed the soil, not the plants.

beachbum757
Full Member
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:41 pm
Location: Tidewater, Virginia

Brandywine not producing

I live in southeasternVa and have 9 varieties of tomatoes. I now have over 100 tomatoes and have picked my first ripe one. All but my brandywine are thriving. It seems my squash and cucumbers which are flowering profusely are having the same problem as the brandywine.
My Blue Vitex, Lilies and Hydrangeas, not to mention clover are loaded with buds and blooms and I have seen some bees. Perhaps things will improve and I may try the qtip thing myself. :wink:

Sentinel
Full Member
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:48 am
Location: Alabama

Has anyone tried Bonide Tomato and Blossom Set Spray? I have a friend that swears by it, but it seems like it may just be another thing in the line of gimmicks for sell. What do you guys think.
Trey Posey
Helena, AL
www.sentinelcleaninginc.com

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”