mbaker410
Senior Member
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:10 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Tomato Pruning

I am pruning my tomato plants and I have never done this. I have read up on this somewhat and I am using the Missouri pruning method. Does this look as if I am doing this correctly?

Also I would like to prune the leaves that are lowest and/or touching the ground. Can I just use clippers and cut them at the main stem?

Here are some pics...

[img]https://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d187/mbaker410/Plants%20and%20Vegetables%202008/DSCF1926.jpg[/img]

Thanks,

Mike

mbaker410
Senior Member
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:10 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

bump

damethod
Senior Member
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon May 05, 2008 4:15 pm
Location: Miami, FL

the little stem looking things are what I believe to be called "suckers". You should pick those off. Right guys?

cynthia_h
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Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Here's a video (just under 5 minutes) showing how to prune tomatoes. It's been a while since I watched it, but I *think* there's more than one method presented.

https://www.taunton.com/finegardening/how-to/videos/pruning-tomatoes.aspx

Maybe this will provide a basis for more questions? I know I've also seen written descriptions with illos of pruning tomatoes also.

Personally, I'm removing the axial suckers. Maybe I should have pruned more strongly, but this is the first time in a l-o-n-g time I've even grown any veggies. Keeping notes for next year....

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

mbaker410
Senior Member
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:10 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Thanks for the video. I actually did a bunch of Pruning yesterday and I wanted to post some of the information on pruning that I found for everyone to see and also correct if false.

Pros:
-Keeps leaves off the ground where disease and problems can start.

-Lower leaves get shaded by top leaves causing a waste in sugars and nutrients because the photosynthesis process is not as effective.

-Suckers and steal sugars and nutrients that would normally go to producing bigger and better fruit.

-The plants if un-pruned will produce later and may not produce as much, pruned plants may produce all season.

-Creates stronger plants that are not pulled down by large suckers that develop into secondary stems.

-More for the compost bin!

Cons:
-Pruning can create an access point for bacteria and disease.

-Can cause some shock to the plant. (I personally have not noticed this.)

-Creates another chore for the garden.

Does anyone have anything else to add?

I have also found that there are two methods (I am sure there are more) to pruning.

1. Simple Pruning: Cutting the suckers or pinching them off at the base at the corner of the main stem and leaf.

2. Missouri Pruning: Cutting or pinching off just the tops of the suckers leaving the base. This gives a little more distance between the cut or pinched part and the main stem aiding in prevention of disease and bacteria. (According to what I have read.)

Pruning tomato plants is all new for me. I have grown up around them but have never seen or heard of anyone doing this. However having my first garden I want it to be as successful as possible. I will post an update at the end of my season to report on my success but I figured if it works why not.

Please add or discredit any info here as I am just relaying what I have found.

Thanks,

Mike

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hendi_alex
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Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I never prune, except to lift the lower branches away from the soil or to trim out weak/diseased stems/branches. My tomatoes are mostly of good size, generally have great flavor and texture. The plants produce early with first ripe fruit usually picked in the first of second week of May here in S.C., zone eight. If the plants don't die from disease, then harvest continues until the first frost in November. I do use a succession of plantings between the third week in April through about the second week in June. That way there are most always some plants in that early growth vigorous stage.

To each his/her own, but from my point of view, why take on an additional chore, when the plants already produce far more than enough top quality fruit over a long season? the only reason that I can see to prune and/or cull tomatoes would be to try and grow top sized fruit and for me that is not a desireable goal, as for slicers I prefer the 10-12 ounce size. Many of my slicers weigh in closer to a pound or more and although eaten with pleasure are not my top choice.

mbaker410
Senior Member
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:10 pm
Location: Baltimore, MD

Thats a good point and like I said I have never done this and have always have good tomatoes. I actually don't mind the chore cause it gets me out there doing something and while there makes me weed and what not. Keeps me focused on the crops so I don't get lazy.

Also I think one other benefit and this may be the main reason why some do it is for control of the plant for space limitations in either a garden or potted plant. This way you can have a taller straight plant allowing more room for more plants in your garden. Or as I have seen in places plants that stay lower to the ground for window plants.

Mike

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