Tomato – Pollination

Q: 1. My tomato flowers fall off before making a tomato. What causes this?

2. My tomato is extremely odd looking…like a green fist is inside it. Why?

A: Both of these problems are caused by lack of pollination.

A tomato flower contains both male and female parts. Pollination usually occurs without a bee’s involvement. If a tomato flower is not pollinated at all, it falls off. This is a normal process.  Vibrations and air currents are usually sufficient to shake pollen loose and achieve pollination inside the flower.

When incomplete pollination occurs, the resulting fruit may be disfigured. This is caused by some seeds receiving pollen, and thus directing tomato pulp to form, while others are not so lucky, thus not developing at all.

Temperature and humidity both affect tomato pollination. When temperatures rise above 85 to 90 degrees F (depending on humidity) during the day and 75 degrees F at night, flowers may fall without making tomatoes.

Here’s a trick to try in hot weather: lightly tap each flower cluster a couple of times each day with a wooden pencil or chopstick.

(Professionals use an electric toothbrush to lightly vibrate flower clusters.)

You may well get the best pollination and the biggest tomatoes this simple way.

In any case, don’t gibe up. Keep your plants healthy and they will make fruit when conditions are better.

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