Pruning Tomatoes

There has been a lot said regarding the pros and cons of pruning tomatoes (AKA removing suckers). Over the course of several years, I have pruned tomato plants while leaving their neighboring plants free to produce a crop without any pruning. When we speak of pruning a tomato plant it refers to pinching out the vegetative branch which grows out of an axillary bud located where a branch is attached to a main stem of the plant.

Overall, I can say that pruning hasn’t always resulted in a bountiful yield as compared to unpruned partners. However, I do believe that pruning is typically beneficial (for indeterminates) when plants are exhibiting good vegetative growth, early in the season. Hence, pruning helps to slow vegetative growth in favor of flower and fruit production while excessive pruning may likely reduce overall yield. However. when I decide to initiate the pruning process, it will begin at the 2nd node, on the main stem, and continue to 6th or 7th node. The reason being that removing too many suckers from a tomato plant can cause increases in burn or scald to developing fruit. Also, if the plant becomes stressed during its production cycle, the remaining unpruned suckers will likely bear fruit allowing the gardener to realize a reasonable yield.

Because there are hundreds of tomato varieties, hybrids and heirlooms which are either determinate or indeterminate plant types, pruning is most effective for indeterminates. For a determinate or dwarf tomato, I may remove a few lower branches to allow for greater air circulation and to keep lower tomatoes off the ground, but I won’t remove suckers as mentioned above.

it’s likely that your experience in pruning tomatoes has led you to a different conclusion, so we would love to know what each reader has to say about this topic.

Missouri Tomato Production

The Garden Dreamer

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