Vegetables and Fruit forum→Tomatoes for a hot, dry climate

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Name: Arnie
Southern California (Zone 10a)
RealLazyGardener
Jun 5, 2019 5:40 PM CST
I'm searching for tomatoes that will set fruit when temps are in the high nineties to low 100's for days at a time. Night time can cool to the low eighties.

I'm planting three Solar Fire (different than Solar Flare) tomatoes in a couple of weeks. Since this is the first time I'll be growing them I can use as much information as possible.

Do you have experience growing Solar Fire tomatoes in a hot, dry environment? If so, I'd like to read what your experiences were, or are.

Or, if you've grown other tomatoes that will grow and produce fruit during hot, dry weather I'd like to read those experiences.





MSP (Zone 4a)
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repentantslide
Jun 5, 2019 5:44 PM CST
http://www.tomatoville.com/sho... there are some varieties mentioned here that should be good. Hot + dry is easier than hot + humid. Also SoCalGardenNut lives near you so they can give some advice.
Name: THISISME W
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona
thisisme2
Jun 5, 2019 6:32 PM CST
Tomato production during the summer is not easy in hot dry climates. My summer temps are roughly 5-10 degrees higher than yours during a normal summer here. My plants do produce tomatoes during the summer. But it takes infrastructure and sometimes watering during the day to do so.

There needs to be a trellis for the tomatoes to give them good air flow. And there needs to be 40%-50% shade cloth above them. The shade cloth needs to be high enough over them to allow good air flow.

You have to watch the plants for signs of heat stress. Because if they are stressed to long, they will abort their blossoms and baby fruit. So, when they are wilting heavily you need to water them. So, you need a soil that drains well. And you will also need to mulch 4"-6" to help keep the root zone cool. On really hot days I spray the ground under the shade cloth around the raised beds for the evaporative cooling effect. When you do this, you can feel the air cool around you very quickly.

During the hottest days of summer. I go out at night when it's cool and gently tap the blossoms. This helps with pollination. I highly recommend it.

Many varieties will not produce fruit during the summer or they will not produce good fruit during the summer. Many will only fruit with Tomato Set Sprays. But they leave will often leave you with deformed tomatoes. The only reliable varieties I have found to set fruit during the heat of summer are Juliet and cherry tomatoes. And the production on the cherries will be 30%-40% of what it is during the Spring and Fall and Juliet will produce 50%-60% of what she produces during Spring and Fall seasons. So, yes, I really like Juliet. Juliet does not crack does not craze and does not catface. It has a permanent place in my garden.

I do grow other tomatoes. And if or when there are a few cool days they will set fruit during the summer. Because they do flower. But they do not reliably produce fruit during all summer.
One has to do more than just read. They have to investigate and think for themselves.
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
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SoCalGardenNut
Jun 5, 2019 7:41 PM CST
I just grow tomato plants, but I'm not aware of any variety that doesn't do well here. But I like your screen name. I'm too a lazy gardener, just a bit nuttier. Lol
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[Last edited by SoCalGardenNut - Dec 16, 2020 2:35 PM (+)]
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Name: Doug
Austin TX HZ10, better than (Zone 8b)
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DougL
Jun 5, 2019 8:12 PM CST
My experience is that "heat-tolerant" tomatoes buy you a few degrees. When it's fiercely hot, as in 100F or so, cooling into the 80sF, that won't do the trick. Not by a long shot. You need "vicious heat" tolerant tomatoes, and I don't think there are any such. Grow something else. I do. Heat makes the pollen sticky and, when it is sticky, it won't fall. Tapping the flowers, hitting them with hammers or crowbars, nothing will make it fall. And yes, high humidity makes it worse.
[Last edited by DougL - Jun 5, 2019 8:14 PM (+)]
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Name: THISISME W
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona
thisisme2
Jun 5, 2019 9:39 PM CST
DougL said:My experience is that "heat-tolerant" tomatoes buy you a few degrees. When it's fiercely hot, as in 100F or so, cooling into the 80sF, that won't do the trick. Not by a long shot. You need "vicious heat" tolerant tomatoes, and I don't think there are any such. Grow something else. I do. Heat makes the pollen sticky and, when it is sticky, it won't fall. Tapping the flowers, hitting them with hammers or crowbars, nothing will make it fall. And yes, high humidity makes it worse.


In Arizona we live in an arid environment with very low humidity. Often lower than 15% during the summer. It does make a difference. If the original poster also has high humidity along with heat. That's a whole different story.
One has to do more than just read. They have to investigate and think for themselves.
Name: Doug
Austin TX HZ10, better than (Zone 8b)
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DougL
Jun 6, 2019 6:47 AM CST
My point was that "heat-tolerant tomatoes" are not always what they are advertised to be.
[Last edited by DougL - Jun 7, 2019 1:04 PM (+)]
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Taos, New Mexico (Zone 5b)
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Henderman
Jun 6, 2019 6:54 AM CST
Welcome!
I figure you know this but I'm going to say it anyway: if your summers are too hot grow tomatoes during the cooler months. Start some plants in late summer and you'll be harvesting in the late fall/early winter. Depending on your local climate you may get tomatoes right up until the temperatures get too high.

No misting, no shade cloth, no sprays, no hunting down special varieties... sounds perfect for a lazy gardener. Grin
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Jun 6, 2019 7:09 AM CST
I'm trying one called Solar Flare this year.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: THISISME W
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona
thisisme2
Jun 6, 2019 7:11 AM CST
DougL said:My point was that "heat-tolerant tomatoes" are not always what thy are advertised to be.


I totally agree with that. I tip my hat to you.
One has to do more than just read. They have to investigate and think for themselves.
Name: THISISME W
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona
thisisme2
Jun 6, 2019 7:17 AM CST
Without all of the things I mentioned above. Some people just plant determinant varieties early in the season and again in September. With no summer tomatoes at all.
One has to do more than just read. They have to investigate and think for themselves.
canada 4b (Zone 8a)
Dirtmechanic
Jun 6, 2019 8:13 AM CST
I used cattle panel to make a square, flat top trellis tunnel for Parks Whopper improved last year. Careful, they come in together compared to our celebrity. The tunnel allowed the plants to shade its own roots. Here in Bama it gets pretty warm, and it helped. I have irrigation in the garden though. I was hauling out 5 gallon buckets to the point my wife complained so I only planted 15 this year. Silicone amendment as they grow can also help increase heat resistance. Its a hydroponic liquid additive that I sprayed last year. I think we mainly deal with bugs and fungi though, and I have left it out of the rotation this year. We avg 90f, but spike above that briefly, not enough to warrant the more extreme measures.
Name: Tracy
Bryan Texas (Zone 8b)
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NakedChickenFarm
Jun 6, 2019 3:11 PM CST
Paul2032 said:I'm trying one called Solar Flare this year.


I had good luck with Arkansas traveler last year and I'm growing it again this year. We had a brutal summer last year and I was surprised to see tomatoes setting in the heat.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Jun 6, 2019 7:26 PM CST
Tracy, how did you like Arkansas traveler? I'm always looking for heat resistant, but decent size and tasting tomato. I will probably try Solar flare too.
Name: Tracy
Bryan Texas (Zone 8b)
Gardening, excuse to play in dirt!
Vegetable Grower Keeper of Poultry Region: Texas Bee Lover Herbs Winter Sowing
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NakedChickenFarm
Jun 6, 2019 8:47 PM CST
ctcarol said:Tracy, how did you like Arkansas traveler? I'm always looking for heat resistant, but decent size and tasting tomato. I will probably try Solar flare too.


Tasty, but not big. But I planted them too close together. Bad habit of mine. They are further apart this year. Still green, but the plants are full.
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
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SoCalGardenNut
Jun 6, 2019 8:49 PM CST
I have some Arkansas Traveler too, I also planted them too close.
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Name: Arnie
Southern California (Zone 10a)
RealLazyGardener
Jun 7, 2019 12:25 PM CST
NakedChickenFarm said:

I had good luck with Arkansas traveler last year and I'm growing it again this year. We had a brutal summer last year and I was surprised to see tomatoes setting in the heat.


Thanks, I just ordered some seed and look forward to growing Arkansas Traveler.
Name: Doug
Austin TX HZ10, better than (Zone 8b)
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DougL
Jun 7, 2019 1:12 PM CST
With regard to second crops of tomatoes, we certainly have the climate to do that. My tomato growing season is March-November. But I've always found that a second crop, planted out in July or August, is just hard to keep alive in the summer heat. It's a lot of work keeping seedlings with shallow roots wet enough, maybe with some shade. So I no longer even try fall tomatoes. I can't set them out in June because the spring tomatoes are still there and producing.

Bottom line. "Heat tolerant tomatoes" is kind of meaningless. What's hot for you probably isn't hot for me.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Jun 7, 2019 7:19 PM CST
It all depends on zone. I mostly shut down in mid summer, but baring pests, things start up again as cooler nights arrive. the one I planted in Aug. grew great, produced nice fruit for awhile, but between the spider mites ,and the winter temps grew lots of leaves, but until weather warmed up a bit no blooms or fruit. Now it's loaded with small fruit...and spider mites. It put all it's energy into leaf growth. As soon as my new ones start ripening , that one will go, and I will try a soil drench to finally eliminate the pests. In my coastal climate there isn't as much difference between day and night temps as some have, due to ocean influence.
Name: Kaso
Western Idaho
shule
Jun 8, 2019 12:50 AM CST
For heat-tolerance in low humidity and drought conditions in full sun, I recommend the Sausage tomato. You might also try Sweet Orange Cherry, Frosty F. House, Cougar Red, Burpee Gloriana, Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, Early Girl F1, Husky Cherry Red F1, Chocolate Pear, Lemon Boy F1, Sasha's Altai, Galapagos Island, and others.

Punta Banda, Nichols, and Chadwick's Cherry are also supposed to be great ones for heat-tolerance, but my experience is mostly with the first list. I've tried Punta Banda, but not the other two; Punta Banda likes drought, they say, and unfortunately, I overwatered it: I just got a few fruit with weird octopus-like texture.

You might also try mulching your plants (to help retain moisture and make watering seem less uneven to the plant) and ensuring the soil is sufficiently fertile, if possible. Organic matter helps, generally. Also, the proper fertilizer and mineral balance assists in heat-tolerance, in my experience (although I often avoid fertilizing where possible, personally). Note that tomatoes don't typically need a lot of nitrogen at a time. Make sure your potassium and magnesium levels in the soil are not too low, as they both play a role in heat-tolerance.

If you're worried that a bark or shredded wood mulch will take all the nitrogen out of the soil (due to soil organisms using it to break the wood down), don't worry. That only seems to cause problems if the wood (and a fair amount of it) is burried in the soil (as opposed to functioning as mulch on top). I've experienced both; each was a unique experience.

Anyway, healthier plants seem to perform better in the heat.

I also recommend saving seeds. Plants often (not always) seem to do better in subsequent generations, when grown in similar conditions as before. Sometimes I think that's due to unrealized hybridization (and the hybrid vigor involved), but sometimes I think epigenetics, and selecting for fruits that set in your conditions helps. I've seemed to have had great acclimatization success there with Mountain Princess, Porter, and others, but not as much success with Pruden's Purple, Glacier, Sugar Lump, and Black Plum, for example (yet; although the latter four do have some heat-tolerance already, but extra yield and vigor was what I was after). Volunteer plants sometimes seem to do better than transplants, too.

Note that I live in the north at over 2k feet in elevation; so, my recommendation list might not perform the same for you, even if we do get very hot, very dry summers (over 110° F. happens, and at least 90 to 105° F. can be expected in late May, June, all of July, and early August, although this year, we've had a cool later spring, so far). Although if you try any of them (especially Sausage), I'd love to hear about the results. From the reviews I've read, and the things I've grown, what does well in southern California seems more likely to do well in my area than what does well in the Carolinas or Texas, though, but it's still different.

The definition of a heat-tolerant tomato is one that can set fruit when the temperature is 90° F. or higher. Heat-tolerance in humid areas is not the same as heat-tolerance in dry areas. They seem to have more trouble in humid areas there, and different tomatoes are recommended.

Sausage seems to be quite heat-tolerant in less humid conditions, but it also tolerates high soil temperatures (caused by extra hot temperatures on black plastic) and extra sunny conditions very well. I grow lots of tomato varieties every year (up to 105 or so, but this year we're fewer varieties and more plants of certain kinds; so, like 48 kinds and maybe 80-something plants, this year). I've only grown Sausage last year and this year. I only grew one Sausage plant last year, but I'm trying 17 Sausage plants or so, this year, and many in the spots where tomatoes struggled in the heat last year (so, hopefully it performs!)

Supporting your plants is a really good idea. I normally don't do that, but when I do, the plants always seem to produce more, so far. Not just tomatoes, but melons, too.

Shading the bottom 18" or so of your plant may help, too. Having an 18-gallon moving totes shade some of our in-ground tomatoes at their bases seemed to help them tolerate the heat better.
[Last edited by shule - Jun 8, 2019 1:37 AM (+)]
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