PDX tomatoes
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seeking tips for managing too-tall tomatoes

I'm not much experienced in these things. I'm looking for advice on my 9 six-foot-tall-and-growing cherry tomato plants, different varieties, in Northwest Oregon (Portland/Vancouver). They are already as tall as I was hoping for. Wooden staked. Tied up. Some suckers removed about a month ago. Loads of flowers. Loads of green ones. 2-3% are turning. A dozen harvested. It's all great. I just don't want to ruin it. All I can do at this point is let the tops flop over and steal a lot of sun, or cut off the tops. I could extend the stakes upward, but then I'd really need to be working them with a ladder as the soil in the raised bed is about 18" high. What should I do? I don't know how long the unsheltered growing season lasts here, but it is only August so I expect they grow a lot more. Due to big trees and the house, they get only a couple hours of direct sun per day. Thanks.

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Gary350
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Re: seeking tips for managing too-tall tomatoes

Keep plants tied up to 6 feet tall then let gravity pull them down like an umbrella.

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hendi_alex
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Re: seeking tips for managing too-tall tomatoes

I saw a roof top garden in NY which was used to grow produce for a restaurant. Their tomato plants went vertical for 5-6 feet, then were taken horizontal along a wire. The plants were in a greenhouse and would grow what looked like 12 feet or more. They seemed to have selected one or just a few leaders and pruned the rest off.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

PaulF
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Re: seeking tips for managing too-tall tomatoes

Gary 350 and I agree. And I am firmly in the "do not prune" camp. Those vines, and they are vines, are what makes the plant do well. Cutting off the tops damage not help the plant. I only trim the bottom stems that allow leaves to touch soil. This reduces disease spread from soil borne disease. With so little direct sunlight I am surprised they are growing so well. Whichever part of the plant receives the sunlight helps the entire plant's photosynthesis.

If there is a way to extend upward the stakes, try it. Otherwise, let it grow as much as it can. You will be rewarded. You don't mention how your tomatoes are being grown; in ground or in containers. Either way, don't fertilize with a high Nitrogen plant food. This will give lots of foliage and fewer fruits. In ground growing probably will not require any extra fertilizer while containers need nutrient replacement every ten days or so and then with a low N, higher P and K formula.

Side note: I grew up in Forest Grove many, many years ago and still get homesick for the area.
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PDX tomatoes
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Re: seeking tips for managing too-tall tomatoes

tomatoes-2016-07-30.jpg
Given your advice (thank you!) I'll postpone the decision to prune. I'll let them grow high and flop over left-and-right, then in a couple weeks probably extend the poles up and add front and back rails at 7'.

To answer some questions, the 9 unfertilized plants are in two rows, staggered along 14' in an 18" high east-west raised bed, 29" front to back inside. The tomatoes are planted about 4" from the sides. The top rail is 60" above the top of the raised bed. Sun is currently to the westsouthwest. On sunny days, my guesstimate is that they get about 4 hours sun from the south starting around noon, and another 2 hours of sun from the east starting around 5:30.

For the past two years, we've grown mostly slicing tomatoes, but 99% end up with blossom rot. The cherry tomatoes did great however. So this year I put in only cherry/grape tomatoes of different varieties.

The front row I suckered high, and the back row suckered low to kind of tier them. However, the effect, if any is not noticeable to me.

Paul - I lived just south of Blair for a year. Miss the rolling farmland and big skies.

PDX tomatoes
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Re: seeking tips for managing too-tall tomatoes

Just found a blog post on topping too-tall tomatoes:

https://www.growingagreenerworld.com/wha ... t-too-tall

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jal_ut
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Re: seeking tips for managing too-tall tomatoes

Well, looks like you can either snip, or just stand back and let them go? I prefer stand back myself.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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