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Is pruning tomato vines necessary?

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Is pruning tomato vines necessary?

Post  dk54321 on 2/20/2014, 2:36 pm

"Everyone knows" that you should prune "suckers" or side branches from the main vine because they will drain energy from the plant, producing too many leaves and not enough tomatoes. I always have a hard time telling suckers from "leaf stems" until the suckers get so big, they have leaf stems of their own. By then, I wonder if I'm doing more harm to the plant by pruning the suckers than by leaving them.

Which got me thinking: has anyone done a side by side comparison of pruning the vines vs. not pruning the vines and found that pruning increased the productivity per square foot? Or is this something that everyone has just taken on authority, like row gardening?
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Re: Is pruning tomato vines necessary?

Post  southern gardener on 2/20/2014, 3:50 pm

Well, for what it's worth, here goes Smile. We had some tomatoes in MM last year, they were Brandywines. We trimmed the suckers and got a couple of nice tomatoes. We also have a front yard "garden" of just normal dirt that we have amended with LOTS of well rotted pig manure. I stuck in a sucker from the MM Brandywine plant, and it got enormous!!! It way way way surpassed the pruned plant in MM. We got well over 100 beautiful tomatoes off of it. If you do a search for "loaded brandywines" you will see the plant and some of the tomatoes. So, long story short, I don't think you get less when you prune, at least at our house we didn't, and the fruit we did get was the best we've ever had Smile Good luck and God bless!
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Re: Is pruning tomato vines necessary?

Post  Marc Iverson on 2/20/2014, 7:36 pm

Pruning my tomato plants gave me way, way more tomatoes, because I stuck the suckers in the ground and grew more free tomato plants!

On another note, some people either/both prune or top off their tomato plants toward end of season to ensure their tomatoes ripen the crop they've got rather than growing new smallies that may not ripen at all.

And on another note, I saw a youtube tomato vid from a professional greenhouse grower in which she said their experiments with double versus single main stem tomatoes showed no drop in productivity or size with double stems. Therefore, she said, they weren't going to cut every plant down to a single stem any more, if it wanted to send out one more stem.
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