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by Ed Caufield
(NW New Jersey)

I have two potted grape tomato plants which appear healthy and are about 3 feet tall. Each plant, however, has yielded only three grapes. Am I doing something wrong?

Hi Ed, tomatoes are funny creatures. As the flowers are insect pollinated, it’s important to have bees or other pollinators that are in the area visiting. Attract them with other flowers that are blooming at the same time so they have more options to choose from.

The flowers of tomatoes open in sequence over a week or more, so it’s possible that the first three in the truss were open and got pollinated, then there was possibly some rainy weather, where the bees weren’t able to fly.

In this case, I would try to act like a bee, and pollinate them myself with a paint brush, or pluck one flower and dab it into the others. This ensures good transfer of the pollen, which makes the fruit form.

Other things that can cause this is a period of extremely hot weather, which kills the pollen. In this case, there is nothing you can do, except hope that you got indeterminate varieties which will keep on producing more flowers over a long season.

You haven’t mentioned if this is what you have; determinate types will reach a certain height and stop growing, to ripen the fruit that is already set, and won’t produce any more flowers.

Hopefully, this will give you a couple of options for managing the plants to have a bumper crop later in the season.
Happy Tomato Gardening!