12 August 2018

Sunburned tomatoes

A report on the news the other day showed a man who grows apples for a living saying that it had been so hot in eastern France that his apples were cooking on the trees. We've seen the same thing happening here in Saint-Aignan, with apples and with tomatoes. And I think a lot of the grapes out in the vineyard are sunburned too.








The tomato closest to the camera lens in this photo is sunburned. You can see that on its west-facing side it has turned yellow and become slightly shriveled. That's damage caused by the hot afternoon sun.







And look at the tomato sitting on the ground in this photo. It shows even worse signs of sun damage. I remember seeing tomatoes burned by the sun this way back in the great canicule of 2003. That was a year before we planted our first vegetable garden here in Saint-Aignan.







I'm not sure if the yellow tops on these red tomatoes are a result of sun damage or just a feature of this particular variety. The fact that the tops of the tomatoes are facing west makes me think it's sun damage.










These yellow tomatoes seem to be suffering less damage than a lot of the red ones. But then if the hot sun burned the red ones and turned their tops yellow, how can we be sure that the yellow tomatoes are not burned as well?







Our heat wave, with highs in the mid- to upper 90s in ºF, lasted only a week, but the weather has been hot and sunny all summer. Temperatures have cooled down now, but the sun still beats down out of a crystal clear sky for most of the day. Rain is predicted for tonight and tomorrow.

9 comments:

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen sunburned tomatoes.. or, if I did, I didn’t realize it.

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  2. Ken, I told Walt I'd send you some pictures via FaceMuncher of our support system for the spirals... seeing this reminded me, sorry!
    But the same support system also allows us to cover the toms against sunburn.
    We used to use fleece, but now use builders' green scaffold netting.
    I put Vouvray petillant, cider or beer corks, drilled to fit.... over the top of the spirals to create a "soft" top, then drape the cover over.
    30gsm fleece and the builders netting both reduce the light falling to 75%, which is the same as the semi-opaque covering that the professional growers use on their polytunnels.
    I'll send those photos, via Messenger, probably...

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    1. Thanks, Tim. All good ideas. The sunburning is my fault, I think. I told Walt it would be a good idea to strip most of the leaves off the tomato plants so that the fruit would get more sun on it. Well, that worked too well, it turns out. No worries, though, because we still have plenty of beautiful tomatoes out there and the sunburned ones, trimmed, will go into ratatouille or the sauce pot.

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  3. Until your last post I had no idea this could be a problem. Wondering if you pick the tomatoes to avoid burning, will they continue to ripen and be tasty? And wondering if the sun impacted any other of your plants. Meanwhile in LA, we are in the 90s every day.

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    1. The kale I grew from seed and Walt transplanted into the garden is looking pretty sad. First it was attacked by "flea beetles" and now it's just too hot and dry for it. I'm hoping that when we start getting some regular rains it will perk up. I should be able to harvest kale all through the winter, with any luck.

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  4. A cheesecloth drape makes a good shade. I've also prevented sunburn on tomatoes by leaning yard prunings against the plants. Easy to clean up too.

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    1. Thanks, Chris. Wish I had thought of that.

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  5. I leave more leaves on the tomato plants for shade. I just cut all leaves below the lowest tomatoes and then about a third of them above.

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    1. That's a good way to trim the tomato plants, I think. Normally we don't have such long stretches of hot, sunny weather here in summer as we've had this year (though I remember how nice the weather was when you and Tom visited a few summers ago). Live and learn, eh?

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