Quick Catch-up Questions

These two questions have come up several times in the past week or two. I decided to answer them here in the hopes they might be of help to you as well.

“Why aren’t my tomatoes setting fruit?”
This assumes that the plants are blooming. If so, it could be that the pollen isn’t shedding within the flowers. That requires mechanical agitation – vibration as it were. Often we grow our plants against fences and walls where there is little motion of wind. Try thumping the flower clusters with your finger tip every couple of days. Usually that will make a big difference.

Continued Below

A little later my answer might shift. As it turns hotter (and for folks in Southwest and West Texas where it has already been hot), it may be an issue with variety selection. Large-fruiting tomatoes have a physiological issue that keeps them from setting fruit when temperatures climb above 90F. You always want to plant small to mid-sized varieties in Texas, both in your spring garden and in the fall.

Now, back to the possibility that your plants aren’t blooming at all. That is most commonly associated with excessive shade. Tomatoes need full or nearly full sun. Anything less and they will be lanky, often failing to bloom in the process.

“Do I need to treat for crape myrtle bark scale, or did the winter kill it off? I’ve treated in the past and wondered if I could sit out one year.”
The winter was not cold enough to kill crape myrtle bark scale (CMBS). I’ve already had several questions about it posted to my Facebook page, some of them from North Texas, where temperatures fell to or below 0F. However, if a crape myrtle has frozen and then been trimmed to remove all the dead stems, it’s possible that the scale population would be reduced (by removal). I also see years when there are far fewer scales than other years. I’ve not yet figured out their pattern.

The control is to apply a soil drench of Imidacloprid systemic insecticide around the plants’ root zones in mid-May. I would still do that if you think there is a chance that you’ll have the pests. However, it’s very possible that you have brought them under control with prior years’ treatments.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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