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Hand Pollinating Your Tomatoes

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Post  gwennifer 6/12/2013, 12:30 am

Last year my mother shared a tip she'd learned that you should pollinate tomato blossoms between 1pm and 3pm in the afternoon. The first time I remembered to actually try shaking a blossom during this time frame corresponds with the first time I actually could see pollen falling out of the blossom. So I'm a believer.

Here's a link to a blog post that has a photo tutorial and explanation of how and when to hand pollinate your tomatoes using a cheap electric toothbrush: 98% Organic in Alaska Blog.
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Post  GWN 6/12/2013, 1:12 am

I was always told to shake the tomatoes at 1 pm.... seems to make good sense..... (to substitute for the wind)
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Post  Pollinator 6/12/2013, 11:10 am

A tuning fork, middle C, touched to the stem of the tomato flower is the closest thing to buzz pollination by a bumble bee that there is. If the flower is "ripe" for pollination, you'll see pollen spew out. You won't have to worry about blossom drop on that flower.

Wind accomplishes some pollination, but not near as efficiently as a sonicating (buzz pollinating) bee. 

Keep in mind that pollination is not an on/off switch. You need two grains of pollen on the stigma to fertilize each incipient seed. Too few grains and you get blossom drop. Add a few more grains, and you may get a tomato, but it will be undersized. The pulp of the fruit develops in response to chemical signals given off by the fertilized seeds.

If you can get near 100% of the incipient seeds fertilized, you'll have the biggest and best possible tomato.
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Post  GWN 6/12/2013, 11:16 am

WOW pollinator, that is so interesting.
So it is not just a pollinated vs not pollinated.... there are varying degrees...
Would any C note work, like C from a guitar?
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Post  boffer 6/12/2013, 11:34 am

@GWN wrote:...Would any C note work, like C from a guitar?


I know a lot of us talk to our plants.  Could playing music to them be the next fad in the gardening world?! tongue
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Post  gwennifer 6/12/2013, 1:19 pm

@GWN wrote:I was always told to shake the tomatoes at 1 pm.... seems to make good sense.....  (to substitute for the wind)
GWN - does the wind only blow at 1 pm?  Because the time frame is what's odd to me.  But like I said, I tried it and it worked.  And the blog I linked to also specified doing so after 1 pm.
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Post  bwaynef 6/12/2013, 1:44 pm

@gwennifer wrote:GWN - does the wind only blow at 1 pm?  Because the time frame is what's odd to me. 
It likely has something to do w/ temperature & humidity during that timeframe.
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Post  GWN 6/12/2013, 5:30 pm

I never knew the 1 pm, it was more something taught to me by clever folks who have been doing this for a long time.
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Post  plantoid 6/12/2013, 6:04 pm

I like the time of day idea as 1 to 3 pm is usually the heat of the day any mist/ moisture  should have dried off unless it is wet weather .


 Not sure about leccy tooth brushes , a sonic wand or tuning forks,  a light tap with a pencil on the stem just above the flower around that time of day will see showers of pollen fall & as they are self pollenating the jobs done .


 Though if your into cross pollinating trying to get the best of two plants an artists fine squirrel hair small paint brush  or  trimmed up rabbits tails on a pencil sticks is just dandy for transferring pollens use three or four  and be careful you don't cause the plant self-pollinate when doing it .
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Post  Pollinator 6/12/2013, 11:59 pm

@GWN wrote:WOW pollinator, that is so interesting.
So it is not just a pollinated vs not pollinated.... there are varying degrees...
Would any C note work, like C from a guitar?


Could you touch the guitar string to the flower stem?
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Post  Pollinator 6/13/2013, 12:01 am

@GWN wrote:I was always told to shake the tomatoes at 1 pm.... seems to make good sense.....  (to substitute for the wind)


That might be the proper time in Canada - but in the US South, hand pollination needs to be done as soon as the dew is dry. By 1 p.m. it's often in the 90s or 100s and that's too hot.
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Post  Pollinator 6/13/2013, 12:09 am

@plantoid wrote:I like the time of day idea as 1 to 3 pm is usually the heat of the day any mist/ moisture  should have dried off unless it is wet weather .


 Not sure about leccy tooth brushes , a sonic wand or tuning forks,  a light tap with a pencil on the stem just above the flower around that time of day will see showers of pollen fall & as they are self pollenating the jobs done .


 Though if your into cross pollinating trying to get the best of two plants an artists fine squirrel hair small paint brush  or  trimmed up rabbits tails on a pencil sticks is just dandy for transferring pollens use three or four  and be careful you don't cause the plant self-pollinate when doing it .

As the Jewish Mama said, Plantoid, "Do your ears hear what your mouth just said?"

You are telling that YOU are the pollinator; then you say that the tomatoes are "self pollinating."  Which is it? 

Actually this is a myth. Tomatoes cannot release their own pollen; they need help, so you can hardly say they are self pollinating, though you hear this myth over and over, and most often in the context of why they AREN'T.

Tomatoes are self fertile, and can self pollenize, but that's not the same as self pollination.

Pollenize -to supply pollen for sucessful pollination, e.g. to sire the next generation - done by a plant.

Pollinate - to move pollen from anther to stigma to successfully fertilize the incipient seeds. 

A pollinator is an agent outside the plant, unless the plant is self fertile and physically brings the anther and stigma into contact, such as a peanut blossom. There are very few truly self pollinating plant species, and these are almost all legumes.
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Post  yolos 6/13/2013, 12:24 am

@Pollinator wrote:
@GWN wrote:I was always told to shake the tomatoes at 1 pm.... seems to make good sense.....  (to substitute for the wind)






That might be the proper time in Canada - but in the US South, hand pollination needs to be done as soon as the dew is dry. By 1 p.m. it's often in the 90s or 100s and that's too hot.


Thanks for straightening that out pollinator because I was told to do it in the morning after the dew is dry and I was getting confused with this 1 pm info.
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Post  gwennifer 6/13/2013, 11:27 am

@Pollinator wrote:As the Jewish Mama said, Plantoid, "Do your ears hear what your mouth just said?"
Just for the record, Plantoid may not have used the exactly correct terms in his post, but I understood perfectly what he was saying.  It was obvious to me when he was saying the job was then done because tomatoes were self-pollinating, that he was simply referring to the tomato flower having all the right parts within itself (as in, you don't have to collect that pollen you just shook loose and take it elsewhere).  

BTW, the famous "Tomato Lady" in Las Vegas, Nevada is the one who taught my mom the 1pm thing.  Interesting.  So with the whole "tomatoes won't set fruit in temps above 90 degrees" thing, it's just the temp at the actual moment of pollination that matters?  That's good to know!
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Post  jazzycat 6/13/2013, 5:26 pm

@gwennifer wrote:
...BTW, the famous "Tomato Lady" in Las Vegas, Nevada is the one who taught my mom the 1pm thing.  Interesting.  So with the whole "tomatoes won't set fruit in temps above 90 degrees" thing, it's just the temp at the actual moment of pollination that matters?  That's good to know!
hmmmm...  That got me thinking.  Is the *actual* temperature that matters, or what the temperature FEELS like.  IOW, yesterday the temperature here was 100 degrees, but according to the weather report, it felt like 131 degrees...  Can plants tell actual temperature from what the air feels like?  thinking
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Post  Goosegirl 6/13/2013, 6:05 pm

@jazzycat wrote:
@gwennifer wrote:
...BTW, the famous "Tomato Lady" in Las Vegas, Nevada is the one who taught my mom the 1pm thing.  Interesting.  So with the whole "tomatoes won't set fruit in temps above 90 degrees" thing, it's just the temp at the actual moment of pollination that matters?  That's good to know!




hmmmm...  That got me thinking.  Is the *actual* temperature that matters, or what the temperature FEELS like.  IOW, yesterday the temperature here was 100 degrees, but according to the weather report, it felt like 131 degrees...  Can plants tell actual temperature from what the air feels like?  thinking



Heat index is like wind chill - it is a measure of how temperature 'feels' to human skin.  Below is a quote from U of Missouri info and the link to the complete article.

http://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2012/7/None-Like-It-Hot/

"It is important to remember that plants react to temperature differently than humans. Humans must evaporate water to dissipate heat. High humidity reduces evaporation and greatly affects the way a particular temperature feels. Thus, weather stations report heat indices that are an attempt to estimate how air temperature “feels” to humans. High humidity translates into heat indices that are often five or more degrees above air temperature. Heat indices have little relationship to the direct effects of temperature on plants."


GG
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Post  plantoid 6/14/2013, 10:18 am

Rolling Eyes   Oooh you are so pedantic ...... but I like YOU love the idea 
 I do now understand the difference twixt US English and being a native English speaker indeed .Laughing

 Yes your right and so am I happy bananaboogie woogiepraise
 
@Pollinator wrote:
@plantoid wrote:I like the time of day idea as 1 to 3 pm is usually the heat of the day any mist/ moisture  should have dried off unless it is wet weather .


 Not sure about leccy tooth brushes , a sonic wand or tuning forks,  a light tap with a pencil on the stem just above the flower around that time of day will see showers of pollen fall & as they are self pollenating the jobs done .


 Though if your into cross pollinating trying to get the best of two plants an artists fine squirrel hair small paint brush  or  trimmed up rabbits tails on a pencil sticks is just dandy for transferring pollens use three or four  and be careful you don't cause the plant self-pollinate when doing it .

As the Jewish Mama said, Plantoid, "Do your ears hear what your mouth just said?"

You are telling that YOU are the pollinator; then you say that the tomatoes are "self pollinating."  Which is it? 

Actually this is a myth. Tomatoes cannot release their own pollen; they need help, so you can hardly say they are self pollinating, though you hear this myth over and over, and most often in the context of why they AREN'T.

Tomatoes are self fertile, and can self pollenize, but that's not the same as self pollination.

Pollenize -to supply pollen for sucessful pollination, e.g. to sire the next generation - done by a plant.

Pollinate - to move pollen from anther to stigma to successfully fertilize the incipient seeds. 

A pollinator is an agent outside the plant, unless the plant is self fertile and physically brings the anther and stigma into contact, such as a peanut blossom. There are very few truly self pollinating plant species, and these are almost all legumes.
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Post  jazzycat 6/14/2013, 3:33 pm

So my tomatoes are starting to recover.  I have a few flowers that in full bloom and I put an old toothbrush head on my sonic toothbrush and touched the bottom side to the stem.  It was SO AWESOME watching the pollen blast out!  Very Happy  That never happened when I was using my fingers to "buzz" the flowers.  Maybe that's why some of the tomatoes are a little underdeveloped.

There were a couple of flowers where it didn't work. Is it possible they were already pollinated, or not quite ready?  I will try them again tomorrow just to be sure.  Anyway.  THANKS for this tip!  What fun!  What a Face
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