Plant Health Alert – Tomato Blossoms Dying

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Why would tomato blossoms die just when there should be lots of tomatoes being harvested?

July and August are tomato harvest time. Did you know that it can be too hot for new tomato fruit to form? Tomatoes are from Central America in places that are relatively mild in temperature.

Usually tomato blossoms abort because it is too hot. When it is hot, tomatoes may  not get pollinated. Tomatoes prefer daytime temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees.

In the heat of summer, when temperatures during the day top 90 degrees for a few days in a row and temperatures at night do not fall below 72 degrees, tomato pollen can become nonviable. When pollination does not occur within several days, the flowers die.

Cool temperatures can cause flowers to abort as well. Avoid planting tomatoes too early in the spring. Early planting can result in lack of fruit formation if temperatures fall below 55 degrees at night.

Dead tomato blossoms

There are other things besides temperature extremes that can cause tomato fruits to abort. The relative humidity can influence tomato fruit formation. The best humidity level for tomatoes is between 40 and 70%.

Pollen can be either too dry or too sticky for effective wind pollination if the humidity is not optimal. Excessive nitrogen in fertilizer can increase vegetative growth. This can decrease the formation of flowers. If you have strong winds then tomato flowers can dry up. Finally, tomatoes with excessive fruit production might decrease producing flowers.

Peppers and tomatoes are in the same family and also drop blossoms if conditions are not in the optimal range.