Learn how to grow tomatoes in hot climates and manage heat stress with these tips and tricks. Choose heat-tolerant varieties, water, mulch, shade, and harvest properly.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular and versatile crops to grow in your home garden. They are delicious, nutritious, and easy to use in various dishes. However, if you live in a hot climate, you may face some challenges when growing tomatoes.
Tomatoes are sensitive to heat stress, which can affect their growth, yield, and quality. Heat stress can cause problems such as blossom drop, fruit cracking, sunscald, and reduced flavor.
But don’t worry, you can still enjoy fresh and juicy tomatoes even in hot weather. In this blog post, we will share some tips and tricks on growing tomatoes in hot climates and managing heat stress effectively. Whether you are a beginner or an expert gardener, you will find something helpful in this guide.
What is Heat Stress and How Does it Affect Tomatoes?
Heat stress is a condition that occurs when the temperature exceeds the optimal range for plant growth and development. For tomatoes, the ideal temperature is between 65°F and 85°F.
When the temperature rises above 85°F, tomatoes start experiencing heat stress. This can have negative impacts on various aspects of tomato production, such as:
Flowering and Fruit Set
Tomatoes need some pollen to fertilize the flowers and produce fruits. However, when the temperature is too high, the pollen becomes sterile and unable to germinate. This leads to blossom drop, which means the flowers fall off before setting fruit. As a result, you will have fewer or no tomatoes at all.
Fruit Quality and Flavor
Tomatoes need water, sugar, and acid balance to develop their flavor and texture. However, when the temperature is too high, the water evaporates faster than the sugar and acid can accumulate. This leads to fruit cracking, which means the skin splits open and exposes the flesh to the air. This can cause the tomatoes to lose moisture, rot, or get infected by pests and diseases.
High temperatures can lower lycopene production, which is responsible for the red color and antioxidant properties of tomatoes. This leads to sunscald, which means the skin becomes pale, dry, and leathery. This can affect the tomatoes’ appearance, taste, and nutritional value.
Plant Health and Vigor
Tomatoes need a steady supply of water and nutrients to grow and thrive. However, when the temperature is too high, the plants lose water faster than they can absorb it from the soil. This leads to wilting, which means the leaves and stems droop and curl. This can reduce the photosynthesis, respiration, and transpiration of the plants.
High temperatures can increase disease and pest risks, like fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, bacterial spot, spider mites, and whiteflies. This can damage the plants and reduce their productivity.
How Do You Grow Tomatoes in Hot Climates and Manage Heat Stress?
Now that you know what heat stress is and how it affects tomatoes, you may wonder how to prevent or minimize it. Here are some strategies that you can apply to grow tomatoes in hot climates and manage heat stress effectively:
Choose Heat-Tolerant Tomato Varieties
Not all tomatoes are created equal. Some varieties are more resistant to heat stress than others.
For example, cherry tomatoes are generally more heat tolerant than larger tomatoes. They have smaller fruits that ripen faster and are less prone to cracking and sunscalding. Some examples of heat-tolerant cherry tomatoes are Sun Gold, Sweet 100, and Black Cherry.
Solar Fire, Heatmaster, Heatwave, and Arkansas Traveler are other varieties that can tolerate high temperatures. These varieties have been bred to withstand heat stress and produce well in hot climates. You can find these varieties at your local nursery or online seed catalogs.
Provide Adequate Water and Mulch
I saw on my farm that water and mulch are essential for keeping the soil moist and cool.
- Water your tomato plants deeply and regularly, especially during the hottest part of the day.
- Avoid overhead watering, as this can cause fungal diseases and fruit cracking. Instead, use drip irrigation, soaker hoses, or watering cans to deliver water directly to the roots.
- Mulch your tomato plants with organic materials, such as grass clippings, straw, or wood chips. Mulch can help retain moisture, prevent weeds, and moderate soil temperature.
- Apply a 2-4 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants, leaving some space around the stems to avoid rotting.
Provide Shade and Ventilation
Shade and ventilation can help reduce the temperature and increase the humidity around the plants.
- You can use shade cloth, row cover, or netting to create a canopy over your tomato plants. This can filter out some of the sunlight and lower the temperature by 10-15°F. However, be careful not to block out too much light, as this can affect the flowering and fruiting of the plants.
- You can also use fans, misters, or sprinklers to create air movement and moisture around the plants. This can help cool the plants and prevent blossom drop and fruit cracking. However, be careful not to overdo it, as this can cause fungal diseases and waterlogging.
Harvest and Store Properly
Harvest and store your tomatoes properly to preserve their quality and flavor. when your tomatoes are fully ripe but not overripe then harvest them. Overripe tomatoes are more likely to crack and rot.
To determine the ripeness of a tomato, examine its hue, texture, and aroma. A mature tomato should exhibit a uniform color, be somewhat soft to the touch, and emit a sweet aroma. Store your tomatoes at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
Do not refrigerate your tomatoes, which can ruin their texture and taste. Use or process your tomatoes within a few days, or freeze, can, or dry them for more extended storage.
Growing tomatoes in hot climates can be challenging but possible. Following these tips and tricks, you can grow tomatoes in hot climates and effectively manage heat stress. You can enjoy fresh and juicy tomatoes even in the hottest weather.
You can easily download the checklist of heat managing guides in PDF format and share the blog post with others.
Sources and References
- : [How to Grow Tomatoes in Hot Weather] (https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/growing-tomatoes-in-hot-weather.html)
- : [Tomato Heat Tolerance: How to Grow Tomatoes in Hot Climates](https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/tomato-heat-tolerance/8920.html)
- : [Heat Tolerant Tomato Varieties: Growing Tomatoes In Hot Climates](https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/heat-tolerant-tomato-varieties.htm)
- : [How to Grow Tomatoes in Southern California](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-grow-tomatoes-in-southern-california#how-to-plant-tomatoes-in-southern-california)
- : [How to Grow Tomatoes in Extreme Heat](https://www.growveg.com/guides/how-to-grow-tomatoes-in-extreme-heat/)
I am Gaushoul Agam
𝐂𝐨-𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 & 𝐂𝐄𝐎
I am an experienced Horticulture Officer in the Department of Agricultural Extension in Bangladesh. I am committed to improving agriculture and farming.
I created ToAgriculture to address global food safety concerns. These concerns are caused by a growing population, diminishing farmland, and the impact of climate change on agriculture. I assist readers in learning modern farming techniques.
I also help them control pests and diseases. Additionally, I guide managing agriculture sustainably. All of this is aimed at creating a better and more successful future in farming.
I have experience in field crops and horticulture crops. I know about fruit and vegetable farming, managing pests and diseases, irrigation, and grafting. Come with me as I share my knowledge and experiences to help you create a better future.