green~acres
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Tomato Plant Suckers

What are ya'lls thoughts on taking off the suckers on tomato plants?Should I or Should I not?
Happy Gardening,,Julie

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hendi_alex
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I never do, and always get a big crop with good sized fruit. However, my plants do suffer from disease during many growing seasons. So I'm considering some pruning this year, to open up the plants to air flow and also pruning to get the foilage up well above the ground. Will see what effect that has. There are some who follow a very precise regimen for pruning tomatoes, claiming that it increases yield and size. I've often wondered, "how much more yield and bigger tomatoes could anyone want!"
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I prune indeterminate plants when they are young so that there is 1 to 2 feet of stalk with no leaves at the soil line. As Alex mentioned, this is to keep disease and pests away.

With small plants, I start removing all suckers up to the first fruit cluster. Anything above that is allowed to grow. Once the plants are in the ground I slowly trim the remaining leaves at the base of the stem until I get the desired clearance. At all times I make sure there are no leaves touching the ground since this is an invitation for fungus.
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green~acres
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Thanks. We always plant indeterminate variety. I have been pulling the suckers off. And we always have a big yield of tomatoes. I gave away so many last year. I froze a lot, ate all we could, then gave some away.
Julie

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Sage Hermit
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Ah good old suckers. I just clipped one big sucker today on my fruiting plant. I have 2 fruits right now and on their bottom side its dark. The fruit are still green but the bottoms are black at the tip of the fruit. Do you guys know why they are dark?
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green~acres
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it sounds like blossom end rot.It is a calcium deficiency. We get it every year on some of the first tomatoes.This year I am going to add crushed eggshells to the hole they will be planted in.
Julie

Venomous_1
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Exactly!

Cirtes wrote:I prune indeterminate plants when they are young so that there is 1 to 2 feet of stalk with no leaves at the soil line. As Alex mentioned, this is to keep disease and pests away.

With small plants, I start removing all suckers up to the first fruit cluster. Anything above that is allowed to grow. Once the plants are in the ground I slowly trim the remaining leaves at the base of the stem until I get the desired clearance. At all times I make sure there are no leaves touching the ground since this is an invitation for fungus.
This is exactly the method I use on my Better Boy's and they will shoot up to 6'-7'. I get a tremendous amount of fruit and they are mighty tasty. Cirtes is right about disease too, I have experienced very little, if not any problems with disease or pests.

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tomatodude
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Adding crushed egg shells can take a while to actually have any kind of amendment ,,,they are slow to decompose into the soil..
Yes Blossom end rot is caused by lack of calcium, but can also happen by uneven soil moisture. When fruits develop that best to take them off...to save the plants energy to develop the ones that don't have it.
Best to mulch heavily as to to keep an even soil moisture level.
It's not what you Grow, it's How you grow it.

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Gary350
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I have tried it both ways. I don't remove the suckers anymore I can not tell the difference one way of the other.

I plant 3 rows of tomatoes every year. I have 8 plants in each row. Each row is a different variety so no matter what the weather does one of the varieties will do great for sure but they usually all do just fine. I like to try new varieties each year, last year I tried Super Star. I was told they are good and they are better than good. This year I will plant Roma, Super Star and Beefstake.

When I plant my tomatoes I dig a hole about 8" deep the size of a flower pot. I plant the entire plant all but the top end of the plant. Any place dirt touches the stem it will sprout roots. A little bit of Urea and tripple 15 and lime in each hole. I water my plants with lime water too it prevents blossom end rot.

I got about 8 bushel baskets of tomatoes last summer. I canned 65 pints and 8 quarts of tomatoes. I also made some tomatoe juice. We pigged out on tomatoes and garden food all summer. I gave away a lot of tomatoes to people out of work that have no money.

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jemsister
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Re: Tomato Plant Suckers

I live in the Pacific northwest, and in this wet, humid climate they say to prune the tomato to give it plenty of airflow, and thus lower the risk of the tomato getting infected by fungus (which is a big problem here with all the moisture--fungus is everywhere!). So in this region, pruning serves more than one purpose. I have never successfully grown a tomato, so I have no idea how pruning effects yield.

Can anyone tell me how high off the ground the first branches should be, for the purposes of lowering pest and disease risks? My stem is maybe four to five inches before the first leaves.

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hendi_alex
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Re: Tomato Plant Suckers

Since this thread started, I've begun pruning plants to get branches above the soil splash zone, and to open the interior up to better air flow. Am not convinced that this will help anything, but it feels better, trying to be proactive.

My plants are generally picked clean of leaves up about a foot. Above that most suckers get removed and also any branches that are growing toward the center of the plant.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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jemsister
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Re: Tomato Plant Suckers

So I probably shouldn't start pruning yet, my plant is only a foot high right now. Although, I use the sliced bottle watering method so that I can fill the bottle at the hose and then bring it over and set it on top of the soil where the roots are and avoid getting water on the leaves. So maybe I could get away with not pruning it quite that high. It's so hard to keep the leaves dry here, but I'm trying. The first time I tried growing a tomato it was ravaged by early blight due to a particularly wet June. This time I erected a canopy, but had to take it down because of high winds one day. I'll probably put it back up soon, or at least a version of it, because the tomato is about to outgrow its cloche.

I think I might be paranoid of rain, LOL!

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Re: Tomato Plant Suckers

Some theoretical considerations to keep in mind about pruning.

The new growth, shoots and leaves, cannot fully support their own growth rate through their own photosynthesis until they are about a third to half grown so don't remove those big lower leaves unless-until you have to because they are what makes the plant grow fast. Missouri pruning where you leave the leaves and pinch the sucker off is better early on-lower down.

In areas with shorter seasons (my frost is in mid October), for a given amount of space you will get more production out of two sucker pruned plants than one unpruned plant. Over half of the fruit are produced on the main trunk stems, while the sucker stems tend to have a higher proportion of small fruit.

Frost hits here while the sucker branches are full of green fruit. If they had time to ripen, a full plant might out produce two pruned ones, but that observations seems to be type specific since my beefsteaks seem to decline late in the season, where as my hearts don't.

Sucker branches don't usualy start to show up until after the first bud cluster forms anyway so don't be in a rush to prune anything.

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Re: Tomato Plant Suckers

Hmmm......how does a thread that's been inactive for over four full years find its way back to the top?

Anyway, I let most of my suckers go although I may remove a few here and there. This year I plan to do a better job of pruning down low to make sure I keep everything off the ground. I always battle blight and almost never keep a plant healthy past late august or so. We'll see of pruning helps in that regard...

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