Anyone have any opinion on pruning tomatoes. I see a lot of info telling me to pull off the suckers but I always ignored it, believing the more leaf surface, the more photosynthesis and thus better fruit. My plants always grew out of control but I did my best to stake them and pile them up against each other. They produced a lot of fruit and sure some of it would rot and some would end up on the ground but I always had enough to eat, give away, make salsa, freeze, etc.
This year I gave in and pruned and it looks like I’m going to get a lot less fruit, albeit slightly larger and neater looking plants. The plants all look healthy, but they only produce at each juncture, which seems to significantly reduce the number of tomatoes.
For example, I would estimate my yellow cherry tomato grew 500 decent tomatoes and 200 that fell off or went bad before eating. This year I think I will get less than 100 great looking tomatoes. I think I would rather have quantity over quality.
I always prune indeterminate varieties and seem to get ample fruit. Of course, I plant as many vines as I feel the need to. And, because they are trained vertically on stakes or overhead lines, they don’t take up much space. The plants get plenty of air and better light exposure and are easy to maintain.
I only have one or two determinate varieties in a given year (Oregon Spring and/or Health Kick) and prune the bottom two suckers and then quit. I keep those caged.
One of my favorite varieties is Early Cascade, which will just keep growing and growing- never seems to get sick and produces plenty of salad-sized fruit, too. As the season wears on the fruit gets smaller and smaller and in a long enough season I get golf balls, but they’re still good.
But I’ve got lots of bad habits, and this might be one of them! If you’re happy with your old way and it works, why not do it?
From what I understand, yield per plant decreases, but yield per square foot goes up.
I was prepared this year with trellises ready and everything, but lost the labels for my determinate and indeterminates. So no go there.
I hate the way tomatoes look so horrible by the end of the summer, and am hoping heavy pruning will help with that. I like to put the kitchen garden close to the house, so appearance is a factor.
I tried pruning tomatoes to only 3 stems last year and was not really happy. They required constant attention for pruning. Less tomatoes. But the worst part is that they were easily sunburned and had plenty of cracking. This year I returned back to cages and tomatoes are great. I think pruning might work in colder climates when there is not enough sun and warm temperatures for tomatoes to ripen properly.
okay, I’m glad I’m not the only one who wasn’t happy with my pruned tomatoes. My wife is none too happy at the number of paste tomatoes grown to be frozen for soup. I’m going back to the tomato jungle next year.
I’ve never pruned my tom plants, and they turn into monster plants that are hard to wrangle. I use tobacco sticks to hold up the major branches, and I’d say that all my plants have at least 4 and at the most 6 stakes holding them up. I plant them out at 4ft spacing and some of them have filled in the space in between.
They had been very productive, and set lots of fruit, but, the deer have decimated my crop this year.
wow thanks for the picture. Those are like one foot apart. I like the cattle panel. I do some raised beds also but have been leaning to flat earth gardening as I learn more. The raised bed veggies all grow together and start shading each other out.
Yes, that can happpen. But we find the raised beds manageable, and as we grow older, a little easier to weed and such. And we don’t try to grow some of the space-greedy stuff like corn, zucchini, and potatoes any longer. This is my first full season with the cattle panels, but I’ve been happy with them so far. Wired together at the corners they practically hold themselves up, although we did use some steel posts to keep them straight. I still need to get the gates made, but haven’t figured out how to do it in a wife-pleasing manner … sometimes these projects don’t get completely done! It’ll involve some forge time and that goes slow for me as all my hammering is done by hand.
This is what I do with my tomatoes:
determinate: do not prune unless sick or very dense.
indeterminate: Remove all suckers bellow FIRST flowering cluster. after that let it grow. Occasionally remove long, leggy grows in the middle of the bush. Remove bottom leaves. Remove sick and on - the- way branches. When already dense, remove new suckers if the branches still loaded with unripe tomatoes. Remove what I can without cutting new grows after tomatoes picked.
Here in northern climes (46.85N) I think we have to do things a little differently than many of you. If I don’t prune suckers from my indeterminates I end up with multiple stalks competing with each other, and devoting all the plant’s energy to vegetative instead of fruiting growth- we’ll get lots of vines but little bloom. They simply don’t have enough time to settle down and have the family - dern party animals!
Yes, this is the way my mother did it in Russia(Moscow suburb, zone 5), where all the tomatoes had to be out of the bush by mid August, otherwise Phytophthora would get them. When I started to garden here where I am now, I tried to follow, but discovered that we have much longer growing period and I can get much more fruit from the same square footage if I do not prune much.
When I started to grow tomatoes, I just follow what book suggested,prune all sucks below first flower cluster. The book did not say what to do after first flower, so I sometimes take the sucks off sometimes don’t depends on variety.
If none prune method increase the quality of the fruits, I had like to try. But if too many sucks grow from flower part of the plant, I would think air circulation will be poor and it might facility disease conditions
After a season of pruning some of my tomatoes, and being initial against it, I would like to say I changed my mind. Although I did not have as many overall tomatoes, the quality and quantity of those with the quality was clearly higher resulting in more overall edible tomatoes and less thrown on the ground.
The Romas were bigger and meatier, the cherries were better, and the mid sized tomatoes had less splitting than previous years when plants were not pruned.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I live in the South and I am thinking of pruning to open up the tomatoes a little more to prevent disease. My tomatoes always seem to get diseases and my minimal spray program did not do much. So it is nice to know if I did this, my tomatoes might be better.