Flower blooms; Photo courtesy
The most disappointing thing in tomato farming whether in the greenhouse or outdoor is having healthy buds and flowers drop off of your plant prematurely before fruiting. Read on to find out what causes blossom drop in your plant, and what you can do to control it.
Causes of blossom drop or flower drop in tomatoes
- Too high or too low Temperature.
- Lack of pollination due to lack of wind or insect pollinators like bees
- Too high or too low Nitrogen
- Too high or too low Humidity can interfere with the release of pollen of pollen and its ability to stick to the stigma.
- Water stress –drought condition that interfere with the uptake of nitrogen and other nutrients.
- Stress from insect damage or disease
- Excessively heavy fruit set
In some cases, blossom drop in plants is common. For instance, many vegetable’s, like squash, begin producing male flowers as much as two weeks before the first female flower boom. That being said, healthy blossoms can suddenly drop from plants due to inadequate pollination, environmental factors, low soil fertility and pest & disease infection e.g. thrips & fusarian wilt
When healthy blooms fall off vegetables and other flowering plants a few days after they open, the flowers probably weren’t pollinated.
Reasons why flowers don’t get pollinated;
High daytime or low night temperature prevents pollination. The range of acceptable temperature vary from plant to plant. Tomatoes drop their flowers when nighttime temperatures remain above 23 C
Lack of agents of pollination in the greenhouse. E.g. mechanical agents, insects e.g. bees and wind. Other than these agents of pollination remember that tomato is a self-pollinating plant but it is not guaranteed 100%. Therefore pollination in the greenhouse should be aided by opening the vents for air circulation; cultural practices e.g. weeding, pruning etc.
Temperature fluctuations, such as those mentioned above greatly affect plant blooms. In addition to flower drop during high temperatures, cooler temperatures following blossom set can also cause flower drops. Too much or too low sunlight can also cause flower drops.
Too much application of CAN fertilizer increases the amount of nitrogen in the soil. This will only promote the vegetative growth making the plant greener and bushy but with no fruits.
Low soil fertility can also inhibit the continuance of healthy blooming. Rather than fertilizing at the onset of blooming, apply fertilizers at least four to six weeks prior to flowering. The foliar for vegetative can be applied 7-14days to flowering.
Thrips can also cause buds and flowers to fall off of plants. These tiny pests get inside buds and feed on the petals causing damages that affect the flower development. Although thrips are difficult to see without magnification, you can see the blotching and streaking on the petals.
Non-chemical control of thrips.
Controlling nearby grass and weeds, picking off and destroying infested buds, and regularly spraying the plants with water. Us the pest nets in all the vents like side vents and doors.
Verticillium and fusarium wilt.
These fungal diseases leave plants stressed and fighting to survive; blossoms drop as the plant fights to overcome disease. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to disease: make sure soil is well drained; avoid overhead irrigation; space plants well allowing for air circulation; eradicate weeds; remove and destroy infected plants; don’t plant members of the tomato and pepper family in the same spot two years in a row once disease hits.
The blossoms on both vegetable and ornamental plants drop when the plant experiences stress of any kind. Here are some tips to minimize stress in the garden:
Keep the soil evenly moist. Mulch helps prevent water evaporation and keeps the moisture level even. Water slowly and deeply in the absence of rain, and never allow the soil to become dry. Plants experience stress when they don’t have the proper nutrients. Most plants respond well to feeding in spring and midsummer with a layer of compost or a slow-release fertilizer. Some plants have special needs, and your seed packet or plant tag should explain how to feed them. Plant flowers and vegetables in a location where they will get the right amount of sunlight. Both too little and too much sun can stress a plant and cause the flowers to drop. If you follow these tips, you’ll have healthy plants with natural resistance to insects and diseases. If you notice signs of infestation, treat the plant as soon as possible.
Let plants set blossoms again.
Tomato and peppers that suffer from environmental stress and drop their blossoms but do not succumb will commonly blossom again and set fruit once the above conditions are corrected conditions improve. If plants experience early season or unexpected stress, give them optimal growing conditions as best you can and allow them to grow on.
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