Tomato plants sometimes fail to set fruit on the first cluster; the plants may be stunted from being too old, too cold or too dry sometime before planting. The plants may also have been severely chilled following planting, or there may have been too much nitrogen in proportion to phosphorus and potassium in the soil. Tomatoes set fruit best if night temperatures are above 55°F—pollen becomes nonviable when exposed to lower temperatures.
Tomato plants need uniformly warm growing conditions, balanced fertility, ample water and uniform growth both before plants are set in the garden and during the growing season. They also need moderate amounts of nitrogen but relatively larger quantities of phosphorus and potassium fertilizer, especially during early growth in the garden.
Apply additional nitrogen as a side dressing, especially on lighter soils, after the plants have set fruits on their first two or three fruit clusters. Flowers dropping off the plants and the smaller size of new leaves and stems later in the season generally indicate that plants are running out of nitrogen fertilizer. Excessively hot, dry weather and inadequate nitrogen can also cause flowers to drop during midseason.
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