It can be very frustrating when the vegetable seedlings you cared for have grown and matured into large healthy plants that do not produce any fruit or fewer fruits than you expected.
This can happen with any type of vegetable where the harvested product is the fruit, and there are a few reasons this may occur. Once you diagnose the underlying reason that your fruit growth is stunted, there are steps you can take to encourage your vegetable plant to produce the fruit you hoped for.
Reasons Why Your Vegetable Plants Aren’t Producing Fruit and How to Solve Them
1. Too Much Vegetative Growth
If your plants are large and healthy but are not producing any fruit, nutrient levels may be the cause. When plants have too much fertilizer or an imbalance of nutrients available for uptake, they may direct all of their energy into growing new leaves, and therefore, may develop very few flowers and fruit. High levels of nitrogen will encourage the development of new leaves and shoots, while adequate levels of phosphorus will encourage flowering.
Some growers choose to check the nutrient levels in their crop through soil or leaf analysis to determine the levels of nutrients available to or present within the plant. With this information, they can adjust their fertilizer plans accordingly. If you suspect that your plant’s nutrient levels might be the reason they aren’t producing fruit, consider testing your soil and adjusting your fertilizer.
2. Lack of Pollination
If your plants produce blooms but they do not develop fruit or the fruit that do form are misshapen, then you may have low or incomplete pollination. Many fruiting crops require cross-pollination to set fruit. This is especially important in cucurbit crops like squash, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. A wet summer can also lead to low pollinator activity and result in poor pollination.
To increase your wild pollinator activity, dedicate pollinator habitat areas on your property or plant pollinator-preferred flower varieties among your vegetables. You could also add a beehive to your property or pollinate by hand if it is appropriate for the scale of your operation.
3. High Temperatures
In excessive heat, it can be common for flowers to abort and drop from the plant, even if the flower was pollinated completely. This is because the development of the ovary may not occur under very high temperatures.
Monitor temperatures, pollinator activity, and flower development to determine if high temperatures are to blame, and minimize any other potential stressors to the plants to encourage fruit growth.
4. Incorrect Planting DensityIncorrect planting density may affect growth and yield. Cucurbits are particularly sensitive to planting density and may not produce much fruit if planted too close together. Pay attention to the recommended plant spacing to optimize fruit set and so that plants do not compete against each other. If using a seeder, be sure to calibrate it each time of use, as seed size may vary from lot to lot.
5. Irregular Harvests
Most fruiting vegetable crops are annuals, meaning they complete a full generation from seedling to seed development in one growing season. When mature fruit are allowed to remain on the plant, it is a signal to the plant that no new flowers are needed.
If you do not experience any of the challenges listed above and have a successful first fruit set, be sure to harvest regularly to encourage the plant to continue flowering and producing new fruit later into the season.
In order to harvest the fruit you’ve always wanted, it’s important to observe and listen to your vegetable plants. Once you know what they need to flourish, they’ll be much more likely to perform. If you have additional questions about why your vegetable plants are not setting fruit, please contact our Customer Service Department at 800.544.7938 and we will be happy to assist you.