By Michelle Fabio
If your tomato plants aren’t forming fruit, you may be inclined to think it’s because you haven’t seen bees or butterflies around to pollinate them.
But don’t blame the bees, according to David Goforth, horticulture and forestry agent with the Cabarrus Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.
“Tomatoes are wind pollinated and outdoor tomatoes don’t need pollinators,” he wrote in a recent Master Gardeners Q & A column in the Charlotte Observer.
Instead, advised Goforth, factors that can affect the setting of tomato fruit include shade, high nitrogen levels and inauspicious temperatures. If the temps have been below 50 degrees or over 70 degrees at night, good old Mother Nature is probably to blame for this common tomato problem.
If you live in area that consistently has such warm temperatures, you may want to look into planting so-called heat resistant tomatoes such as the Solar Fire, which was developed by researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The Solar Fire can be planted earlier in the fall than others and the vine produces firm tomatoes great for salads and sandwiches according to Jay Scott, a professor of horticultural sciences at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
Has this year’s heat adversely affected your tomatoes?