What Affects Tomatoes Setting Fruit?

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Tomato plants reproduce in several ways. They will root from cuttings. They also will form new plants from buried stems that have rooted. However, the way most tomato plants reproduce is by flowering and setting fruit which contains the seeds. When the seeds are planted new plants form.

Indeterminate
Tomato plants are either indeterminate or determinate. That term refers to whether the fruit sets and is harvested within a week or two, or if the fruit sets and ripens throughout the growing period. Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing. The vines do not stop growing at any genetically predetermined length. The plants continue to reproduce or set fruit continuously until the first frost.

Determinate
Some tomato plants, like Roma tomatoes, ripen all their fruit at one time. These are determinate tomatoes. There are varieties that are early midseason and late. If you plant these varieties you will have tomatoes throughout the growing season. Late season determinate tomatoes are chancy in areas where fall may come early. You could lose the entire crop to an early frost.

Hybrid Tomatoes
These tomatoes are crosses between two different types of tomatoes. The idea is to get the best traits from both, or to produce a plant more resistant to disease and fungus problems. The seeds of hybrid tomatoes will not result in plants that are similar to the parent plant. They don't reproduce themselves, although they do have fruit.

Temperature
Tomatoes flower and are self-pollinating which means you don't need another plant or variety for the fruit to set. However they stop flowering, or the flowering slows considerably, when temperatures are above 90 degrees. If the plants don't flower, they won't set fruit and reproduce. Temperatures below 55 degrees slow down or stop flower production. Frost, or temperatures below freezing, kills the plant and cuts off reproduction.

Humidity
Dry weather stops the pollen from sticking to the stigmas, the female part of the flower that is attached to the ovum. The ovum is what produces the fruit which holds the seeds. If the weather is dry, try misting the flowers to increase the humidity and fruit set.

Warning
Tomato plants belong to the same plant family, nightshade, as hemlock. The vines, like potato plants, a cousin, are toxic. Don't let children or pets eat or play with the vines. Wash hands after harvesting ripe tomatoes.
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This article was published on 2011/01/03