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Old 06-24-2010, 05:35 AM   #1
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Pruning Tomato Plants


Been reading a lot about how to prune tomato plants and there definitely appears to be a consensus that you should prune most of the suckers that appear between the stem and leaf branches. And that it should be done by pinching them with your fingers or with a sterilized razor blade if they are really large. The more suckers you let grow the more tomatoes you have but you sacrifice size. So with less suckers you have fewer tomatoes but they will tend to grow larger and healthier. Makes sense. Strike the best balance between number of fruits and size of fruits.

What I'm not really clear about is the pruning of leaf branches. Since the leaves harness the suns power and turns it into sugar it would make sense to leave a lot of leaves on the plant to not only help with photosynthesis but to also help shade the fruits from too much direct sun.

Most of the articles I've read indicate that most tomato diseases and fungus' results from the leafs being too close to the ground and picking up soil born spores by rain or sprinkler splash. Many articles recommend not having any leafs within 12" of the ground and sometimes 24" in some cases. Looking at my tomato plants I'd obviously have to prune several of the low hanging leaf branches along with the suckers that I overlooked early on.

Obviously I don't want to cut any flowering branches as these are where the actual tomatoes will be growing. But can I safely just snip off the lower lying branches without any repercussion to the plant down the road?

I really know very little in terms of pruning anything whether it be a tomato plant or an azalea. But I'm trying to learn. Some of the you-tube videos I've watched directly contradict each other. One in particular from a master gardener recommended cutting all leaf branches away in order to direct all of the plants sugar to the fruits. This doesn't seem logical to me. Others make it sound like you have to be really careful about what you snip or ealse you can kill the plant.

So in the end, what tips do you guys have about pruning tomato plants? From what I gathered I think I should cut most suckers out and work with 1 main stem. And also cut any leaf branches off the lower part of the plant that contains low hanging leaves.

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Old 06-24-2010, 09:12 AM   #2
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Pruning Tomato Plants


I pinch off all the suckers
As the plants grow I also pinch/cut off the lower branches
I grow mine in a low lying area, so they grow up to 8' tall
As they get bigger the lower branches are shaded & do tend to yellow

Once they start producing tomatoes & are over 6' tall I usually just let the grow wild
Towards the end of the season I cut off new growth at the top to force the energy into ripening

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Old 06-24-2010, 10:48 AM   #3
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Pruning Tomato Plants


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
I pinch off all the suckers
As the plants grow I also pinch/cut off the lower branches
I grow mine in a low lying area, so they grow up to 8' tall
As they get bigger the lower branches are shaded & do tend to yellow

Once they start producing tomatoes & are over 6' tall I usually just let the grow wild
Towards the end of the season I cut off new growth at the top to force the energy into ripening
Thanks SD. So no problem with me just cutting those low lying branches off completely?

BTW, How do you stake your tomatoes? Right now I'm using bamboo but I don't think it's gonna be strong enough. I'm thinking of getting some rebar and using strips of pantyhose to tie them up.
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:55 AM   #4
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Pruning Tomato Plants


I use a combination of tomato cages, stakes, posts w/lattice & an overhead metal pipe system & rope/wire
I have also grown & used sunflowers
My garden becomes a jungle in the summer

Before it grows in, I still need to add more pipes to the overhead support



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Old 06-24-2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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Pruning Tomato Plants


your guard flamingo's rule. i have to go buy myself some!
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Old 06-24-2010, 12:30 PM   #6
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Pruning Tomato Plants


I have always pinched of the suckers ans have just lived with lower level yellowing.

Indeterminate plants can certainly get out of hand as far as height. I had one in a container that got over 10' high - 5' up, 5' down and a little on the ground. It would tip over from a breeze if it was not watered twice a day because of the moisture drawn up. For real spport, I found cages made from 6x6 10-10 wire for concrete slabs. Cut 6' off the rolled (6' or 8' wide) into a cylinder about 2' diameter makes a great cage for the easy to grow aggressive plants. Wire the end together to hold the cage, so you can flatten it and store it gor the mext 10 seasons. This eliminates staking, general containment and the large openings provide ventilation and access to pinch of and shove ne growth back inside. An ordinary cage isusually adequate for determinate tomatoes.

I now grow in hanging bags and limit myself to Roma tomatoes or other determinates growing out the bottom to keep them off the ground and avoid the ground pests. I also add 2 peppers out of each side of the bag. This allows me to rotate them 360 degrees and start much earlier, and are easy to protect from frost and can be brought inside for very cold weather. The strawberries in 2 other bags are also apparently working well. They all must be watered daily because of the evaporation.

When they really get going, you have to pinch off the suckers.

Dick

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