The Q&A Archives: Yellow Ring on Blossom Stem of Tomato Causes Drop

Question: My problem is with my tomato plant's flowers. They get a yellowish discoloration right at the neck of the flower bud, then it drops off, giving me no fruit.

Answer: The symptom sounds specific to some kind of problem, but I can't find anything that fits! It may be due to feeding by aphids or tarnished plant bugs. Aphids usually feed in clusters on the undersides of leaves, and especially enjoy the succulent new growth. Tarnished plant bugs feed on unopened buds, blossoms and new shoots. They are very quick to fly or scuttle out of sight when you approach a plant, so you have to be on the lookout for them. They are a bronze/brown color and only about 3/8" long. If you find either of these on your plants, write another question in on this website, and we'll give you a remedy.

Blossom drop also occurs when temperatures are very high (70F or more at night, 85F or higher during the day). High temps render the pollen sterile, so the blossoms just drop off. You can see if shading your plants makes a difference, or just wait til temperatures cool - plants will start producing again. I don't know if you've had rain like we've had up here in Vermont, but dry soil also leads to blossom drop. If none of these options fits your situation, you can see if a local agricultural extension agent or master gardener (ph# 401/792-2900) can help you further. Best of luck!

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