Steps To Pollinate Tomatoes By Hand: How To Tell If Tomato Flower Is Pollinated?
The following are some steps to pollinate tomatoes by hand. These are the steps I have tried myself and they work very well! You may try them too, but please do not use these methods without first consulting your local or state agriculture department before attempting to pollinate tomatoes with any method.
1) Remove the stem from each tomato plant.
2) Cut the top off of each tomato plant.
3) Place one tomato stem at a time into a plastic baggie.
(You can use cheesecloth or even newspaper.) Then place another tomato stem at the bottom of the baggie. Seal it up tightly so no air gets inside. Make sure there is enough room around all stems to allow for expansion when you put them back in their pots later.
4) Cover the baggie with a clean kitchen towel.
Leave it out until nightfall. When morning comes, you will see that the stem has grown quite a bit. You may remove it now, or leave it longer to let the rest of the stems grow in.
5) Now take your electric toothbrush and brush each stem several times over its entire surface area for several minutes until you feel like you’ve covered every inch of the stem completely with pollen grains.
6) Grab a bag of seedlings and use the collected stems to brush the ready-to-pollinate tomato flowers until they are all completely full of your own personal pollen.
7) Now go out and get yourself a good light (or beer or coffee or whatever you like to do to relax) because you’re going to need it for what’s next.
Tomato Pollination Spray: The Easy Way Out!
Have you heard the one about the tomato farmer who needed to spray his plants to give them the lift they needed?
Well, it’s no joke. There is actually a spray that you can buy at your local nursery that increases tomato plant fertility rates by up to 40%!
1) Put on protective gear, including goggles and gloves.
2) Follow the directions on the back of the bottle exactly and do not deviate from them.
3) Wait 48 hours before proceeding to the next steps below.
Tomato Pollination By Hand: The Old-Fashioned Way
Have you read the instructions and the methods above and still don’t quite understand them? Or perhaps you’d rather not use a spray on your plants at all?
Well if that’s the case, then you may want to consider the old-fashioned way of increasing your tomato plant fertility through direct hand pollination.
1) Find yourself a few bumblebees or at least some common bees that are easy to catch.
(You can usually catch them by placing a tuna fish sandwich in a jar and covering it loosely with a cloth. The insects will be attracted to the smell and get stuck in the jar when you screw on the top.)
2) Wait until morning and then go out to your tomato plants, which should be nice and fresh after rains during the night.
Pick one that has several blossoms that aren’t too far along in their growth.
3) Hold the blossom tightly with one hand.
Use your other hand to remove all of the petals, being careful not to damage the reproductive parts within. (Sterile gloves are recommended but not essential.)
4) Now here comes the tricky part.
You need to mass-transfer pollen from the anther (those yellow parts that look like ice cream cones) to the stigma (looks like a hairy spider). Use your bumblebee or other bee to accomplish this.
5) Do this for all of the blossoms that you want to be pollinated.
6) Go back and check on your tomatoes in a few days.
You should see some of them swelling already!
Sources & references used in this article:
Practical aspects, and the use of male sterility in the production of hybrid tomato seed by D Lapushner, R Frankel – Euphytica, 1967 – Springer
Seedless tomato by GJ Van Vliet – US Patent App. 10/315,229, 2003 – Google Patents
… tomato, hybrid tomato plants capable of producing said seedless tomatoes and cultivation material therefore, and food products obtained from said seedless tomatoes by G Van Vliet – US Patent App. 09/325,425, 2002 – Google Patents
Artificial hybridization and self‐pollination by WR Fehr – Hybridization of crop plants, 1980 – Wiley Online Library
Sucrose transporter LeSUT1 and LeSUT2 inhibition affects tomato fruit development in different ways by A Hackel, N Schauer, F Carrari, AR Fernie… – The Plant …, 2006 – Wiley Online Library
Tomato fruit development in the auxin-resistant dgt mutant is induced by pollination but not by auxin treatment by F Mignolli, L Mariotti, L Lombardi, ML Vidoz… – Journal of plant …, 2012 – Elsevier
Chemical and sensory comparison of tomatoes pollinated by bees and by a pollination wand by K Hogendoorn, F Bartholomaeus… – Journal of economic …, 2010 – academic.oup.com
A century of advances in bumblebee domestication and the economic and environmental aspects of its commercialization for pollination by HHW Velthuis, A Van Doorn – Apidologie, 2006 – apidologie.org