One of my biggest frustrations with gardening is the month of July. This is when my previously beautiful garden wilts and burns in the hot Texas sun. This year, we hope to try providing partial shade for the garden--specifically the tomatoes as we try and prolong the growing season into the summer months. Here is my research:
The south, west and top exposure are the most harmful. Our tomatoes are located in the SW corner of our yard, so all we need to account for is top shading.
I have read a few times that tomato pollen become sterile at temps over 90F... that matches well with my observations that July and August I never have any tomatoes, but any plants that survive the summer will start to fruit again at the end of September.
EFFECT OF DIFFERENT SHADING LEVELS ON TOMATO PLANTS. 2. YIELD AND FRUIT QUALITY
Authors: A.M. El-Gizawy, M.M.F. Abdallah, H.M. Gomaa, S.S. Mohamed
The effect of shading on fruit yield and quality of two tomato cultivars was investigated during the late summer season. The results are summarized as follows:
Shading of plants significantly increased the number of fruits per plant and total yield. The maximum fruit yield was obtained by plants grown under 35% shading.
Shading of plants significantly improved the physical characteristics of tomato fruits. The highest weight, length diameter and volume of fruits were obtained from plants grown under 35% shading.
All shading densities used led to a significant increase in the percentage of titratable acidity, whereas, an opposite trend was recorded for total soluble solids and ascorbic acid content of fruits.
Shading also led to a significant reduction in the percentage of sun-scald fruits. The highest percentage of puffy and blotchy ripening fruits were detected by plants grown under full sunlight and heavy shading (63%).