Dallas Climate….why your tomatoes won’t fruit in summer…

June 28, 2009

Ok, so for any of that have not lived in the DFW area before, you have to understand that the climate and soil here are quite challenging for gardeners. I won't even get into the soil in this post because that's at least a page, lol. Now, we have a 12-month gardening season, which is great, however each season brings major challenges that keep gardeners on their toes. Dallas is categorized as a sub-tropical humid hot climate. Most of our 35 or so (if we're lucky) inches of rainfall comes in spring, usually in the form of a few torrential downpours or floods. That means spring is humid and we have all sorts of fungal disease problems on top of the poorly draining clay soil, not to mention hail and tornadoes. And we're windy....the third windiest city in the country as a matter of fact.  Which dries everything out. In winter we usually get 2 or 3 days of snow, flanked by 75 degree days...lol. With just enough freezes, usually in the 20's but always a few in the teens, that means that things you might be able to get through the winter will take a dive. Because it's usually warm before these cold snaps plants don't have a chance to harden off. Then there is summer...ah summer. Usually, this transition happens hard and fast come June. 70's one day...then 100 plus with no rain in sight for months. We've already been in a run of 100 plus degrees for a while now. Yesterday was 103. With the humidity, we often see heat indexes in the 115-117 degree range. Now, I know what you're thinking...yes it gets 100 degrees in other places. But the difference here is that the nights don't cool off. With daytime highs in the hundreds, and nighttime temps in the 90's, plants never get the cool off they need to really look good in the summer or produce fruit (that's why tomatoes go into heat delay here in the summer). That's why in Chicago, you can have a 100 degree day and plants still look fabulous there...you get 60's and 70's at night. It's that day/night temperature average that has a much bigger effect on plant development than the daytime temp alone. I'll stop there...i have a 300 page thesis on flowering physiology if anyone is ever having trouble going to sleep at night! lol

So my follow up to this post will be a look at some things in the vegetable garden that can take our summer nastiness...yes, there is hope!

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