Getting Hot in central Alabama and my tomatoes aren't happy

It’s June and as most years the temps are getting up to 90 and soon we will get to the upper 90’s. I have been seeing references that indicate as the temps get this high tomatoes stop pollinating but the ones already on the vine will continue growing and ripen. Has anyone figured out how to keep tomatoes pollinating during this hot period? If you have what do you do?. I haven’t attempted these but I can only think of two things, shade cloth and morning sun only. Please share your success methods as I think many of us can benefit from your experience. Thanks

1 Like


Our garden used to get burned up every year so a border on the perimeter of dwarf cherries etc. Adds some cooling to the garden and for the gardener! Used autumn berry myself and pears.

1 Like

A deep (6-8) inch layer of hay or straw mulch helps keep the root zone cool and keeps the moisture in. Water a couple times a week.

I do that and it helps… but still my SS 100 plants stopped setting fruit in july last year… but they did start up again when our heat wave was over.

I have never tried shade cloth… but wonder if that would help.

1 Like

This year all my tomato plants are in containers so I can move them to another location where they get morning sun. They are mostly Celebrity (determinate) and I need to set more fruit through June if possible. After they load a decent amount I’m okay with them expiring around July-August. I’m all determinate this year and I might plant more for a late harvest.

I like using other trees to block some of the sun/heat.

1 Like

My neighbor has a nice setup in an old dog kennel. She uses black netting to keep out the birds and stuff but it provides heavy dappled shade… she and i grew the same varieties of tomatoes last year and hers produced a couple of months longer than mine… and were super healthy and happy.

For the nerds like me- Tomatoes are ‘Nightshades’… some suggest the name describes how these plants prefer to grow and flower in the night and shade.

1 Like

The problem is ambient air temperature which is not changed with shade cloth. At ambient temperatures of 92F and higher, tomato pollen clumps which prevents pollination. You can do a few things to modify the microclimate. TNhunter has the first step which is to use a good mulch to keep the soil cool. Clark’s suggestion of a border planting won’t work in Alabama. It helps in his climate because he has a very different climate where wind is a major factor. Krismoriah has a suggestion that helps but for an entirely different reason. Foliage disease takes down tomatoes rapidly when heat and humidity are high. Putting a cover over the plants to keep rain off the leaves significantly slows down the spread of foliage disease which helps keep the plants in production longer. Be careful, too much shade will reduce production. What else can help? Grow heat tolerant varieties. I can’t stand the flavor of most of the heatwave/heatset/sunleaper tomatoes on the market, but they will set fruit at higher temperatures. If you want a few suggestions that have decent flavor, Tropic, Creole, and Burgundy Traveler do better than average in high temperatures.