Best tomato for hot dry summers?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by HermitJohn, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    Ok, my water supply has become very unreliable. All people moving into this area (NW AR) has lowered water table, my ancient dug well now goes dry in summer and once even in December. Used to make it through in summer if one was conservative. I can haul water for me and pets but not going to do it for the garden as old public spring I get it from is some distance away. Should mention I live on hilltop which is quite different than creek bottom or valley. Climate here usually means temps hot and humid in May, dry by mid July and if lucky rain again by mid September. Frost free April 15 to mid October. We tend not to get much of a spring season. Sort of goes from mild late winter/early spring to hot humid early summer very quickly. Last year was an exception.

    What is most heat/drought tolerant tomato (with mulching of course.) I've experimented over the years to see if I could get some tomato production without much watering, but not lot of luck. My old favorite yellow pear usually pulls through with some production. Last year a volunteer red cherry actually came back and produced some ripe tomatoes in late fall just before frost. Yellow pear wasnt quick enough and I had green fried yellow pear tomatoes. Many varieties just give up ghost and never produce anything.

    I did quick google search and came up with following varieties:

    Kellogg's Breakfast
    Big Beef (hybrid)
    Russian #117
    Manyel
    Snow White Cherry
    Punta Banda
    Omars Lebanese
    Eva Purple Bell
    Lemon Boy
    Ace 55
    Heatwave
    Kootenai
    Wild Cherry (suppose to grow wild in Mexico)???

    I've tried LemonBoy and Ace in past and it may have been that particular year but they didnt do anything much. I imagine some of others in this list wouldnt either. Could also go for super early varieties to avoid heat and dry, but they usually are determinate and dont produce much. Anybody have suggestions? Size and color dont matter. I would figure from experience that small or cherry size tomato is going to have best chance.
     
  2. mousecat33

    mousecat33 Well-Known Member

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    I've always grown Sweet 100's(hybrid cherry) with no problems whatsoever here in Texas. Rutgers have done well too. Last year I tried the Yellow pears, man, they are killer!! Sprouting a flat right now.

    I water sub-terrain, under the mulch using a coffee can full of compost, etc.


    mc
     

  3. mousecat33

    mousecat33 Well-Known Member

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    I forgot to add that Hillbillys do well, too. Just can't remember if its a hybrid or not.




    mc
     
  4. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    Yes Rutgers are one of better tomatoes with mulch and daily watering. They are tolerant of heat but need daily watering. I've been looking about on internet some more since originally posting. Going to try some of those Mexican currant tomatoes, an African tomato called Togo Trifle, and another Mexican called Punta Banda. Punta Banda is described not only tolerant of heat, water stress, but poor soil too. My kind of garden plant. These are all of the tomatoes I'll grow this year and experiment with them at different levels of care. Couple control plants with full mulch and daily water. Some with mulch and water maybe twice a week, and finally some just mulched. Most years yellow pear can survive with no water during August, September, but doesnt produce, just survives enough to come back when rains start again.

    Seems like I grew Sweet 100 couple years but cant remember now. should keep garden journal, my memory isnt as good anymore.
     
  5. mousecat33

    mousecat33 Well-Known Member

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    A Journal!!! Dang, why didn't I think of that?

    Thank you sir, a journal. Going to the dollar general to get a couple three tonight! One for homegrown things, one for hunting and fishing, and one for poetry/verse. Somethin' 'bout a journal....



    mc
     
  6. Might look at these two that are bit on the acidic side: super sioux (sets great in heat) and old brooks (one of the best against blossum end rot and dry conditions) and I like polish linguisa for a past type, Totally Tomatoes carries all three.

    I was looking for some seeds for a variety from Mexico but couldn't find the seeds anywhere, so went with some from Florida Univ. research.

    The currants are suppose to have like 40X the lycopene of a regular tomato, so better for you.
     
  7. Hey Hermit, I'm probably your next door neighbor as I live just inside Oklahoma in the foothills of the ozarks. I very much have the same problem as you when it comes to the summer heat drought. Just when my da'maters are producing ripe ones real good the summer heat takes over and dries everything up. But the last time I planted tomatoes I discovered a great way to keep them from drying up so fast. What I did was throw dirt to them everytime they growed a little. Kind of like throwing dirt to your taters. By the time I quit throwing dirt to them it looked like there was about 6 or 7 plants growing out of the same hill. But all it was, was one plant buried up past the first few limbs. The whole stock and the buried limbs sent out roots all over the ground. I had the best tomato plants and they kept producing all the way through fall. Only problem I had was when the sun got up to 100 or more it would scortch the top of my tomatoes, even the green ones. So all I have to do now is to figure out how to provide partial shade to them during the hot rays of the day.

    Hope this helps you out and good luck this coming summer.
     
  8. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    RH, never tried dirt, just mulch. Going to try it. Yea, weather in this region is just timed horrible for tomatoes. Not long enough growing season on either end of the summer drought to get any serious production without lot of watering. I am hoping that these tomatoes I am trying will make it through drought in good enough shape to get some decent production in fall. Fall tomatoes are best here anyway.

    Hey I spend 10 years in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Short growing season but lots rain so I managed to get production, but they all tasted like somebody had stuck them in refrigerator. On other hand really great place to grow root vegetables and brassicas. I could grow great cauliflower, broccoli grew like a weed. Best beets and carrots ever.

    Frustrating after having grown up in Iowa where it was downright easy to grow lots of very tasty tomatoes, no watering required. Anything that didnt require super long growing season did well there.
     
  9. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Porter and Improved Porter(Porter's Pride) and Yellow Pear work the best for me on a limestone hill in Texas.
     
  10. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    Keep reporting, please. This has extreme relevance to me here. I'm only just keeping things alive with a can of water a plant a day, shade cloth to stop them drying up, but they sure aren't growing well. I think I'd do better if I moved the cloth more, only put it there when essential, but I don't have the time to give it that attention.
     
  11. Don try the dirt ideal if you can. Just pile up as much as you possibly can around the base. Then if you have any mulch of some sort place that on top of the dirt. You may still have to add some water but you will stand a much better chance of not loosing your plants.
     
  12. Don,
    Might consider layering the lower limbs of your tomato plant (start rooting them, similar to the dirt piling thing) this will increase your root system, which will relieve some of the stress on your main root system which will benefit the whole plant and also allow for: more direct nutritional route to fruit on those limbs and allow for a quick (rooted) transplant if you chose and the drought breaks.
    I use this technique to produce transplants for my second crop of tomatos in the fall, after the killing summer heat.
     
  13. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    I've been thinking more about the adding dirt method. What about variation in sunken bed gardening like they do in some desert areas. Dig foot and half trench, mix oganic material and sand at bottom of trench, plant tomatoes and add dirt as they grow. You would be getting roots into a cooler area of ground and closer to moisture.

    Here such a trench would flood in spring rainy season so would have to be on slight slope, maybe in curve formation with ends open and pointing downhill so water could drain quickly. This clay doesnt absorb water quickly.

    I am thinking trench would be best. I tried raised beds when I first moved here. They absorb heat fast and dry out quickly. This was an advantage with sandy cold water logged soil when I lived in northern Michigan, but not good here in AR in summer.
     
  14. Seems that all the suggestions suffer from the same problem, potential disease from dirt splashed onto leaves during rain.

    The trough idea would go good with the layering idea, however I would further suggest that a slow irrigation be set up using buried clay pots on each side of the plants (when you add the extra soil) this will be your slow irrigation system, and then follow the water saving irrigation scheme from this CSIRO article (the reason for the two clay pots) which was originally directed at grapes but recent research shows that it works with other crops.:
    “A new irrigation technique developed by CSIRO could cut the amount of water used by grapevines and other crops in half.
    "Partial rootzone drying will allow growers to produce grapes - and, we hope, other horticultural crops - with significantly less water," says Dr Brian Loveys, CSIRO Plant Industry.
    Partial rootzone drying was developed by Dr Loveys with Dr Peter Dry from the University of Adelaide and Dr Michael McCarthy from the South Australian Research and Development Institute.
    "Partial rootzone drying has no effect on yield and can even improve grape quality, while reducing water use by up to 50 per cent," says Dr Loveys.
    "The technique uses two irrigation drip lines instead of a single drip line," said Dr Loveys. "It will work on existing vines with a slight modification to the irrigation system."
    The scientists have found that watering only one side at a time causes biochemical changes in the vine, which reduces the amount of water the plant needs. Because only half the plant's rootzone is wetted, each watering uses only about half as much water without any loss in terms of yield.”
     
  15. Don, yuo might try setting your shade cloth so that only the afternoon sun is blocked. That way, they can have the weaker morning sun for photosynthesis, but be sheltered during the heat of the day. That's how we grew them in California, which I believe is ALMOST as hot as Australia!
     
  16. Cygnet

    Cygnet Guest

    I grow cherry tomatoes in Arizona with minimal water, sometimes none during the monsoon, in very sandy soil.

    What you do is take a 1 gallon plastic pots, cut the bottom out, sink them in the ground, and plant the tomatos in the bottom of the pots. Do NOT till the soil unless absolutely necessary; the untilled soil holds moisture better. Then mulch with 4-6 inches of something like alfalfa chaff that will hold moisture well.

    Also, if you can get 55 gallon plastic barrels, drill holes in the bottom and sink them about 3' into the ground. Pour all your waste water into the barrels. Gets the water down to the roots (tomatoes have deep, deep roots) with minimal loss from evaporation. I'm on a very poor well and save water from my showers, dishes, etc. and dump it on the garden. One of these days I'm going to find the time to simply divert grey water straight to the garden, but I don't have the time right now. *sigh*

    For what it's worth, farmers out here cover their melon fields with black plastic to conserve water. Might be something worth considering too.

    Leva
     
  17. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    Leva, where are you located? We are in Willcox, AZ. We raised roma tomatoes last year with drip and they did very well. We bought other varieties but they didn't do too well. We planted our beefsteak a little late so they got hit by the frost Nov. 1. We used to know a Leva at another residence.
     
  18. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Once I heard of someone burying a bale of hay with a pipe inserted in it so that water could be poured sown the pipe.(Large diameter of course). Tomatoes were then planted over the buried bale. Fertilizer also went down to the bale.

    I have thought of this often but don't have the jackhammer necessary to bury a bale on this whiterock hill. I have no way to irrigate under the hill except to haul water.

    It sounds like a good method to me. I do use old 2gal plastic pots for sub irrigation and last year planted in the pots. It didn't help on the growth but kept the critters like rabbits and armadillos away from the transplants till they were established.

    I don't usually cage mine and they root along the stem as they grow. I have plenty of room. A light scattering of straw over the vines can provide some shade.
     
  19. Lynn(Mo.)

    Lynn(Mo.) Member

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    The cherry tomatoes are prolific, hardy, and will reseed themselves. Last year I had a renegade come up in the flower bed by the chimney on southside of house..it grew up the clematis vine to over 16 foot! I was picking them in the middle of Nov.! The ones in the garden outlasted every variety that was planted. I do not water unless they are going to die cause we have to pay for every drop of water we use here. So, I have alot of stress in the heat of summer on my garden. I am also looking for heat tolerant varieties.