Tomato production in hot weather
When it gets really hot, we start shutting down. The same thing happens with tomato plants. If your tomatoes seem to be on hold and not setting fruit, blame it on the heat.
Radio interview source: Brad Bergefurd, Horticulture Extension Educator, Ohio State University
The heat is a real concern to those who depend on high yields from their tomato plants.
Brad Bergefurd s a horticulture extension educator at Ohio State University. He says even though tomatoes are considered a warm season crop, they suffer when the temperature climbs above 85-degrees during the day, and stays above 70-degrees at night.
"They continue to grow, but their fruit setting ability is diminished," he says. "Some of the pollen that helps to set the tomato fruit becomes not as viable, which means you don't have the fruit set, and therefore we call it the blossom burst where the blossom just blows out because of the high heat."
Bergefurd says tomato fruit that was set before the high heat kicked in will be fine. However, they could ripen faster than normal, which means they may not become as large as they had the potential to do. They probably won't taste as good, either.
Provide some temporary shade to give your plants a breather. Draping a light cloth over them will reduce the temperature by a few degrees.
"Put up a little temporary structure using some posts, or something like that, and lay that shade cloth, a thin sheet, just something especially during the heat of the day," says Bergefurd. You won't have to keep it on in the morning and at night, but you could pull that thin sheet and try to reduce that light intensity, which will give us a reduction of temperature within that production area during the heat of the day."
If you're not able to control the heat's effect on your tomato plants, don't worry. Just keep the plants well-watered and mulched. You may lose some yield, but they'll start producing again once the weather turns cooler.
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