You may be an “old hand” at raising tomatoes or you may be an “eager beaver” who has set out their first plants this year.
In either case, you are likely to discover the bane of all tomato-growers – “blossom drop.”
Usually, the delicate tomato cluster cannot stand nighttime temperatures under 58° degrees Fahrenheit.
The tomato plant also needs warm, sunny days to “set” its fruit. Late spring and early summer nights are often cold and the daytime temperatures cool and cloudy.
If conditions are not right, those first promising blossoms will drop off your vines, and your tomato crop will have to come from a second blooming.
This may delay the ripening of fruit since 45 to 50 days are required from blossom-set to full maturity. An early frost could leave you with baskets of green tomatoes on your hands.
Tomato Blossom Drop Spray As They Open
Again modern science has come to the rescue of farmers and gardeners with a hormone spray, which, if applied to tomato clusters just as they open, releases natural hormones in the ovary and sets the fruit.
Tomatoes from these first blossoms ripen in plenty of time to avoid frost damage.
Tests have shown that the hormone strengthens the attachment of the blossom to the stem, and that sprayed plants set as much as 90% fruit from their blossoms as compared with 50% from unsprayed plants.
The hormone in the spray, which is marketed under several trade names is one of the large family of growth-regulator hormones which have revolutionized horticulture
Early experiments with these hormones were made several decades ago in Holland and England, but the first American tests were started around 1930 by the Boyce-Thompson Institute for Plant Research.
Fruits without Seeds
In 1944, Eugene Olshansky, a young research chemist with General Electric Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, startled the horticultural world by using a hormone spray to produce tomatoes without seeds!
He demonstrated that if the tomato blossom is sprayed before pollination by wind, birds or bees takes place, the hormone pollinates it artificially and the tomato is seedless.
Although seedless tomatoes have some advantages, especially for people with dental issues or stomach disorders, Mr. Shansky realized that the greatest value of the hormone spray lay in its quality of producing better fruit earlier by setting the first blossoms.
Tomatoes from blossoms sprayed with the hormone were heavier, have fewer cracks, and are less subject to black rot.
The tomato hormone spray was been field-tested by the government and universities in such widely-separated areas as New Jersey and Texas and under such divergent weather conditions as those in Florida and Colorado.
Everywhere yield increases ranged from 30% to 50% after the use of the spray. Fifty to 75 ripe tomatoes per tomato plant was an average yield, but one western grower sprayed a plant five times and got 200 tomatoes!
Such concentrated spraying is certainly not recommended for the small gardener or the big operator, either. Experience has shown that a single application will produce good results, and one or two more at weekly intervals even better.
The cost of using the spray is so small that it is practical for both “backyard” and professional growers.
All the home gardener needs in the way of equipment is an ordinary garden sprayer. Most come in a spray bottle and are ready to use!
There are so many growth-regulator hormones on the market today that experts warn gardener to make sure they are buying the right preparation for the job he wants to do.
Do not buy a spray for strawberries and expect it to produce wonderful tomatoes! The proper spray, used according to directions on the bottle, should give you a fine crop and provide ample insurance against “blossom-drop”.
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