Taiji
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How many growing stems to allow?

Besides reading on this site I've been watching some you tube instruction on pruning tomatoes.

I'm a little limited for space, so was wondering which would be more productive in the long run, 3 one stemmed tomato plants planted about a foot or 16 inches apart, or two 2 stemmed plants a little further apart? I could go either way.
Plants are indeterminate. So, it would be 3 stems vs. 4 stems in the same space. Maybe a moot point...:) Maybe not that much difference in yield?

So, I would prune the plants in such a way that they would have one stem each, or 2 stems each.
Hope I explained myself well! Thx.

imafan26
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

Pruning involves taking out the suckers and training the tomatoes on a trellis, pole, or string.

You still need to plant tomatoes 2-3 ft apart, because the roots still require space even if you prune the suckers and tomatoes are heavy feeders.
The other reason to space them farther and train them up is to use less space on the ground but also to minimize disease by improving air circulation.

How many suckers and leaves you take out will also depend on your location. You need to know how many leaves you can take out and still provide protection from the sun so the fruit will not get sun scald.

Tomatoes grown in a hothouse can be pruned more severely but the opaque roof mitigates the sun so sun scald is not a problem. Taking off more leaves, exposes the fruit more so they are easier to see to pick and improves air circulation since tomatoes grown in hothouses are planted with the minimum distance apart.

That same tomato grown out in direct sun, with most of the leaves removed and fruit exposed would have more problems with sun scald.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

Not only sun scald, tomatoes grown with not enough leaf cover in direct sun are more prone to cracking. They heat up intensely in the sun and the cool off more quickly at night. This leads to expansion and contraction and cracking.
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Taiji
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

Thanks for the responses. For sure, out here in AZ, sun scald is an issue that needs to be thought about!
I'm not sure if I expressed my question really well. Instead of saying "growing stem" maybe I should have said growing stalk, or leader. For example, in this you tube short this guy has his plants relatively close, looks like about a foot apart. But he has pruned his plants to a single leader or stalk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekvuwwneUxs

My question is, all other things being equal, which method would give the most bang for the buck (most tomatoes) over the course of a growing season, say, 3 plants with one stalk, or 1 plant with 3 stalks? As long as there is adequate spacing between it and the next plant of course.

Maybe not much difference, I don't know.

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Gary350
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

I never trim my tomatos. In the past 45 years I have tired several things but trimming them does nothing. I put a cage on my plants and let them grow straight up and out the top.

I moved from Tennessee to Arizona 3 years ago it is a challange and learning experience to grow tomatoes here. First thing you should do is till 6" of peat moss into the sandy 8ph soil. I plant my tomatoes in November and have excellent tomatoes all winter until 110 degree weather in June. Sun shade is no help the summer heat causes the plants to stop making tomatoes.

Pull the tomatoe plants up in June then plant melons. Melons love the heat and sun. I had 3 plants last summer with 58 long stripe watermelons. Full sun in AZ is not like full sun back east we have no clouds and no shade big sky country gets 14 hours of blistering hot sun all day 114 degrees for about 6 weeks July and August.

imafan26
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

I still do not understand what you are asking. Usually you only have one plant up a line or pole trellis. In the video the person is only taking out suckers, not stems which is the proper way to prune. taking out the stems would reduce your fruit yield since that is where the trusses are.

Training to a line or pole trellis allows you to plant closer together about 18 inches apart. Training to a cage doe not require any pruning only removing the lower leaves and pushing the vines back inside the cage. You would only top them if you don't want them to grow out the top of the cage. That would need 24-30 inches between plants in cages.

You could plant 1 foot apart and in Arizona you may get away with that with dry air. It would not work for my tropical location since the humidity would cause a lot of fungal diseases. They would be too close to get good air circulation.

You have to remember too that tomatoes are not natural climbers and it is time and labor intensive to have to tie up tomatoes to the line or pole or adding supports if you are doing a Florida weave.

Planting closer means you will need to monitor your plants for insects and diseases carefully as the close proximity will spread both problems rapidly.

My boss like to take off all the leaves and just leaf the very top leaves. No side shoots for the first three feet. A lot of tomatoes are lost that way but the tomatoes that form will form on the stem and they are bigger. This is in a hothouse with an opaque roof so the exposed fruit does not burn.

Productivity is dependent on variety as well. If you plant Sweet millions you will get a lot of fruit, but if you plant something like Black cherry it yields considerably less. Bigger fruit generally will mean less fruit and the more fruit you vine ripen, the less fruit in total you will get.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

I watched the first half of the you tube video. So far anyway all he is talking about is the same things I do - remove all the suckers and remove any bottom branches that can touch the ground. Has nothing to do with "leaders" etc.
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

Sorry! Lol.

Here's what I meant to ask. It seems that besides a person pinching off all suckers, some people allow say, one sucker to grow, which then forms another growing stem/stalk, on the same plant. Some people may allow 2 or 3 suckers to grow which would allow one plant to then have 3 or 4 growing stems. It looks like most people here pinch all suckers. I was just wondering if a person allowed some suckers to form new stems would that be more or less productive over the course of a season than a plant where there is just one growing stem?
Maybe the result might be more tomatoes, but perhaps of smaller size?
thx :)

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

OK, now you got it down to a question I can answer:

Pruning tomato suckers is sometimes recommended because the resulting new stem is competing for nutrients with the original plant You may be setting more fruits if you leave the suckers to grow, but the fruits will be smaller.
https://gardening.about.com/od/totallyto ... uckers.htm

But only indeterminate varieties should be pruned. Determinate varieties are only going to grow to a certain size and then be done. Pruning them just reduces the yield for no reason.
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vaporizer
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

rainbowgardener wrote:OK, now you got it down to a question I can answer:

Pruning tomato suckers is sometimes recommended because the resulting new stem is competing for nutrients with the original plant You may be setting more fruits if you leave the suckers to grow, but the fruits will be smaller.
https://gardening.about.com/od/totallyto ... uckers.htm

But only indeterminate varieties should be pruned. Determinate varieties are only going to grow to a certain size and then be done. Pruning them just reduces the yield for no reason.

awesome answer. i was wondering the same(my first season), but was unsure how to ask. i was a little lazy in pruning in the beginning and had many "two stock one plant". i have since pruned most of them to one but chose to leave a couple that have the room to see how they do. thanks again

Taiji
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Re: How many growing stems to allow?

Thanks so much for all the responses. I think maybe for my own education I'll allow maybe a couple of plants to have a couple of growing stems, and just see what happens!
Thx.

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