Tomato styles keep coming off with the anther cone during emasculation

I’m a noob, so I figure I’m doing something wrong. I’ve tried several different plants (and varieties). All are small still, enough that I’m surprised they’re producing flowers. They were direct-sown, and I figure are a little early in the season.

Anyway; I’ve been trying to pull the anther cones off various flowers, and each and every one pulls the style off with it. I’ve tried different stages of flower development, from all green to fully open. I’m being very careful to only grasp the anther cone and not anything more, I’m reasonably certain; I’ve got good eyes and small fingers.

Can anyone tell what I’m doing wrong? I’ve only got so few flowers or I would keep trial-and-erroring it. My best guess is that the flowers aren’t formed well because the plant is still too immature for producing them correctly, and that my attempts would be successful on older plants.


Try taking off one anther at a time instead of the whole cone. If you find a variety with large sturdy stigmas that might make a better mother.


I don’t try to pull the petals and anthers from the flower.

I typically use a small scalpel to cut the anther cones from the flower.

I use about 3X or 4X reading glasses.

In any case, the location where the style broke from the flower is susceptible to pollination.

The polyamorous tomatoes are a joy to work with, because the anther cones don’t need to be removed.


I don’t think it’s not that much about flower stage, altough that’s important for pollination. It’s about tools you use. If you do it by hand then it’s quite a delicate process. Better have some tool like pincers. Also you don’t have to do it like in videos, style is free as long as you get the job done. I think for me they mostly don’t come as whole, which might be because of timing, but doesn’t stop from doing it. I have learnt that it is better to do pollination couple days after emasculation. Maybe my timing with emasculation isn’t best, but it’s quite hard to tell when they are just about to open when I have so many types of flowers.


That’s extremely useful information! Yes, I’m looking forward to when any of the polyamorous varieties I planted begin flowering, and I imagine that eventually I won’t have to do much manual crossing anymore. I don’t have a big enough yard for enough plants to (patiently) wait for selfing types to naturally hybridize.

@WilliamGrowsTomatoes, @JesseI I’ll try those different methods then; I have nose hair trimmer scissors that might work, they’re small and sharp


Good luck with it. I’ve got big clumsy hands and make a terrible mess when emasculating tomatoes but usually succeed, eventually. It’s very satisfying when you do.


One of my systems is using exserted stigma potato leaf mothers. I do daub pollen sometimes but it isn’t necessary to remove the anthers because you can pick out the crossed seedlings as long as you use a regular leaf father. I am not sure if weather conditions were just conducive but I did finally manage to make a good number of hand crosses last year even in the open garden. Though notably as I have germinated 2022 seed I have found that my potato leaf exserted mother system was only about 20% effective in terms of crossing blocks. Another way to put that is that fathers matter a great deal too for natural crosses to be effective!

1 Like