# LaTeX doesn't put 3 tables at the top of a page as I'd expect

Why in the example below LaTeX puts Table 3 in p. 3 and not in p. 2 (just after Table 1 and 2)? I use the parameters [htb] for the position and I set topnumber equal to 3 so that I would expect Table 1, 2 and 3 close, at the top of p. 2.

\documentclass[a4paper]{article}

\twocolumn \flushbottom \sloppy

\setcounter{topnumber}{3}

\begin{document}

The apple TAB \ref{tab:1} is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family (Rosaceae).

\begin{table*}[htb]
\centering
\begin{tabular}{|c|}
\hline
data\\ \hline
data\\
\hline
\end{tabular}
\caption{caption}
\label{tab:1}
\end{table*}

It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely k TAB \ref{tab:2} nown of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans.

%
\begin{table*}[htb]
\centering
\begin{tabular}{|c|}
\hline
data\\ \hline
data\\
\hline
\end{tabular}
\caption{caption}
\label{tab:2}
\end{table*}
%

Apples grow on small, deciduous trees. The tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sie TAB \ref{tab:3} versii, is still found today.

%
\begin{table*}[htb]
\centering
\begin{tabular}{|c|}
\hline
data\\ \hline
data\\
\hline
\end{tabular}
\caption{caption}
\label{tab:3}
\end{table*}
%

Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit's genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means.
About 69 million tonnes of apples were grown worldwide in 2010, and China produced almost half of this total. The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6 of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland. Apples are often eaten raw, but can also be found in many prepared foods (especially desserts) and drinks. Many beneficial health effects are thought to result from eating apples; however, two forms of allergies are seen to various proteins found in the fruit.
Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit's genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means.
About 69 million tonnes of apples were grown worldwide in 2010, and China produced almost half of this total. The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6 of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland. Apples are often eaten raw, but can also be found in many prepared foods (especially desserts) and drinks. Many beneficial health effects are thought to result from eating apples; however, two forms of allergies are seen to various proteins found in the fruit.
Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit's genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed.
Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit's genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means.
About 69 million tonnes of apples were grown worldwide in 2010, and China produced almost half of this total. The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6 of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland. Apples are often eaten raw, but can also be found in many prepared foods (especially desserts) and drinks. Many beneficial health effects are thought to result from eating apples; however, two forms of allergies are seenApples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit's genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means.
About 69 million tonnes of apples were grown worldwide in 2010, and China produced almost half of this total. The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6 of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland. Apples are often eaten raw, but can also be found in many prepared foods (especially desserts) and drinks. Many beneficial health effects are thought to result from eating apples; however, two forms of allergies are seen
Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have been present in the mythology and religions of many cultures, including Norse, Greek and Christian traditions. In 2010, the fruit's genome was decoded, leading to new understandings of disease control and selective breeding in apple production.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, fresh eating and cider production. Domestic apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means.
About 69 million tonnes of apples were grown worldwide in 2010, and China produced almost half of this total. The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6 of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland. Apples are often eaten raw, but can also be found in many prepared foods (especially desserts) and drinks. Many beneficial health effects are thought to result from eating apples; however, two forms of allergies are seen

\end{document}

-
@Svend Thank you very much for the editing! I think example is minimal because that text is the minimum quantity of text to get the problem described. The structure of my example is very easy: sentence-1 table-1 sentence-2 table-2 sentence-3 table-3 a_lot_of_text... the problem is that the three tables are not close –  fibon82 Aug 11 '13 at 3:27
@Mico Did you mean \topfraction? I tried \renewcommand{\topfraction}{0.9} but still it doesn't work! –  fibon82 Aug 11 '13 at 3:35

Under the twocolumn regime, the number of floats allowed at the top of a page is governed by the counter dbltopnumber (set to 2 by default), not topnumber. So, try
\setcounter{dbltopnumber}{3}