The Q&A Archives: TomatoVarieties for Hot Weather

Question: My son is in the Peace Corps in Kiribati, a tiny island nation near the equator, thus hot and humid. He is trying to grow tomatoes and is having difficulty getting fruit to set. Can you recommend a variety that produces fruit in high temperatures? Evening temps rarely drop below 80.

Answer: Unfortunately, tomato pollen dies in conditions like these. Tomato pollen usually dies if the night temperature stays above 70F. If your son is trying to introduce tomatoes to the island as a food crop, he'll be better off working with crops that are native to equatorial regions rather than trying to force tomatoes to grow there. However, there are varieties that are more tolerant of heat than others that may be worth trying. 'Heatwave', a quick-maturing hybrid, is disease resistant and bears best when daytime temps are between 90-96F, and 'Solar Set' hybrid bears even when night temps are 72F and the humidity is high. Both varieties are available from Tomato Growers' Supply, PO Box 2237, Ft. Myers, FL 33902, ph# 941/768-1119. Your son may be able to try some tricks to moderate temperatures with creative shading, air ciruclation and buckets of ice (some growers of specialty crops will go to these lengths!), but these are hard to implement and mangage without a lot of capital input. If he's trying to grow a couple of plants for his own garden, it may be worth the effort. I wish him the best of luck!

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