Tomato and Pepper production slowdown

ehsteveAugust 5, 2012

So I had a great start to the year - my banana peppers each supported ~40 peppers and the peppers were all a decent size and the tomatoes were doing pretty well too. But now my tomato plants have ceased production entirely and the peppers that are now growing (the large ones have all been harvested) are about half to two thirds the size of the first lot.

I'm growing in ~7 gallon containers. Soils various MG* types - organic choice and moisture control (in different containers). I've been fertilizing with MG 10:10:10 Tomato Plant food, using about a teaspoon of fertilizer in a gallon of water each time I water, about twice a week. When I water the peppers the leaves are normally starting to wilt just a bit.

The peppers look very green and happy, just with small fruit. The tomatoes are having a rough time and occasionally leaves start dying at the bottom of a vine before the dead leaves work their way up that particular branch/vine.

Weather has been pretty good, zone 7a. Lots of sun but no sign of sunburn on the peppers.

Am I fertilizing too much, too little, missing some sort of nutrient? I'm surprised at the productivity crash after such a good start to the season.

*This was my first year growing in containers, next year I plan to use some of the highly recommended home made mixes I've read about on here

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Where are you? Photos would help a lot.

Excessive heat will slow production in the peak of summer. Heat stress take a direct toll on plant growth, and increases photorespiration - meaning less net photosynthesis. High temperatures in the root zone is also very detrimental. Your plants are probably root bound now as well, which is obviously limiting. All of this translates into reduced production.

Peppers are more tolerant of high temperatures than tomatoes, but at a certain point they will start to feel negative effects. Above 85 degrees, the pollen of most tomato varieties becomes denatured and blossoms will not set fruit. Cherry tomatoes are the main exception.

Older tomato leaves will naturally senesce (yellow, dry up, and fall off) in response to heat stress. Interveinal yellowing (chlorosis) before drying up, would suggest magnesium deficiency. If your fertilizer doesn't contain magnesium, adding epsom salts is advisable. Magnesium deficiency late in the season is common for both tomatoes and peppers.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 1:22PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

You should be able to grow decent tomatoes in 7 gal containers. Of course bigger is better, but I'm up to my eyeballs in tomatoes using 5 gal buckets. I'm guessing that your soil mix and feeding schedule could be improved. The only thing I could suggest for this year is to increase the fertilizer. Not much you can do about the mix at this point. My mix is similar to the 511 with a little extra water retention. It drains very well though. In full sun, I still have to soak the containers every day, and I feed them every day @ 1/4 strength.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:46PM
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@ greentiger

Thank you - that sounds exactly like what is happening. I'm in northern Virginia and the slowdown and die-off started around the time we had a heat wave come through a couple of weeks ago. Since then its reliably been in the 90's most days with a few going over 100. I had three types of tomatoes - better boy, bush Goliath and a cheery tomato - the BB and BG certainly suffered the most and died off to the point I binned them. The cherry is generally green and puts out a lot of flowers but won't set fruit.

Below is a photo of the Better Boy struggling shortly before I uprooted it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 12:23PM
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