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pinch tomato flowers?

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pinch tomato flowers?

Post  kilda on 4/29/2011, 11:34 am

one of my tomato plants (sweet 100) has flowers on it already. the plants are about 8 inches tall and went into the garden a couple of weeks ago. should i pinch the flowers off or leave them?

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Re: pinch tomato flowers?

Post  acara on 4/29/2011, 11:37 am

I wouldn't do it on a Sweet 100 ..... no real value (in my opinion) to doing that on the currant/cherry/spoon varieties.

The technique is frequently used to improve size quality of larger tomato varieties though.

I usually just let the "cherry" tomato plants "do their thing" unmolested, since the fruit is so small and usually very abundant. Pretty soon, you'll be going out daily and picking coffee cups full of those yummy little treats.

Unfortunately, you may never actually get those inside, or in a salad. The average life expectancy of a harvest from a Sweet-100 plant in my yard is about the same time it takes to walk from the plant, back to the house (because I ate them all in route).

Dang thinks are like veggie-crack Very Happy
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Re: pinch tomato flowers?

Post  nickiefriend on 4/29/2011, 7:34 pm

Well what if my brandywine and better boys have flowers? They are about 1 ft tall and have been in the ground about 2 weeks. They were in 4 inch pots when I bought them. If I should pinch them, what is the benefit?

Can you tell I am a newbie Smile
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Re: pinch tomato flowers?

Post  acara on 4/29/2011, 9:32 pm

Wow ..you picked doozie to start with (on the brandys').

Brandywines break most of the rules on tomato gardening ...It is an open pollinated heritage tomato (and indeterminate) with a potato leaf.The fruit is large (1 lb. or more) with ribbed, green shoulders.

Typically you start pinching/pruning as soon as you get them in the ground. the "rules" on pH, soil, growing medum, etc are mostly different for Brandies.... so do your homework (Google is yr friend ..... anything from "Dave's garden" is probably good advice).

I''d definately pinch/prune any growth below 12" from the soil line. once the Brany gets going,, you will just need to prune the suckers. The worst thing you can do with Brandy's is overfertilze, or try to improve the soil too much (it will make the taste more acidic & not as sweet).

The pinching/pruning allows the plant to focus on one thing at a time & typically gives you better fruit.

The best advice I can give you on Brady's is to pick them early ... as soon as they start to color. Brandy's are very suceptible to cracking if you try to vine ripen them fully.


As far as the B. Boys go ...... really cant do much wrong with them.
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Re: pinch tomato flowers?

Post  sarah in the garden on 4/29/2011, 11:29 pm

Oh wow... feeling a little dizzy right now! I have never grown toms before and know absolutely nothing Embarassed
Got excited with mom at Lowe's one day and bought four varieties: Sweet 100, Brandywine, Rutgers and Homestead. Thinking now I need to do some research! They all are about to flower, maybe this is not such a good thing? I was really getting jazzed! Plus, I think I might have crowded some of the plants (Homestead and Rutgers), they are growing really well and starting to crowd in the buckets I planted them in.
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Re: pinch tomato flowers?

Post  kilda on 4/30/2011, 5:25 pm

I noticed today that my full size tomatoes are getting ready to set flowers too (Big Beef and Better Boy). should i pinch those? what is the reason for pinching them?

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Re: pinch tomato flowers?

Post  pattipan on 4/30/2011, 5:41 pm

In all my years of gardening...and I am 53 and grew up in a gardening family...I have never heard of pinching off lower or first tomato blossoms. That's not to say you shouldn't, but I have never done it and my tomato plants bear just fine. Maybe Carolyn Phillips or jaybird can comment on this, as they both grow tomatoes for sale.

The first blossoms of my WV 63 tomatoes bore these beauties.



In September I was still picking beautiful full-size tomatoes off the vines!

Now, I do remove the suckers and lower leaves as the plants grow, but no blossom pinching for me! Very Happy

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Re: pinch tomato flowers?

Post  acara on 4/30/2011, 8:58 pm

"Pinchers" are usually folks who transplant, or stake or trelis grow their tom's.

Cage growers sometimes dont bother (and don't trim suckers), because the cage supports all the extra growth. Also "sprawlers" don't bother & just let the plant do whatever it's going to do (they don't stake, trellis or cage either).

As far as the reasons ....

For transplanters .... any flowers that appear in the first week or two in the ground, typically don't survive the transplant shock. Also fruit and flowers take a lot of resources, so some folks wait until the roots have established and matured before letting the plant set fruit.

For the other types of growers first tier fruit is often plagued with BER (plant can't process the calcium yet, or calcium isn't available in the soil yet) and fungus/bacterial problems (proximity to the ground and soil-splash from rain & poor watering technique). There also some varieties where the first fruit is often bitter, so folks remove the flowers until the plant has developed more. Some folks also don't like their fruit close to the ground due to pest/rodent concerns & pinch flowers until the fruit would be higher up the vine/bush.

For "show-growers", pinching the flowers focuses the plants resources to an individual piece of fruit. Typically on single stem technique you don't allow more than one flower cluster per foot of stem height and you cull intermediately until you only have 1 or two pieces of fruit on each "tier". This technique is typically where you see these "monster" (5+ LB) beautiful tomatoes come from.

Commercial growers typically don't bother, because every tomato is possible $$$$ in the bank. Also flavor and size are somewhat secondary concerns in todays marketplace.

Pinching flowers and suckers has always kinda been the politics & religion of the tomato world ...... everyones got a different opinion & if you get more than a couple growers in the same room, you'll probably end up in a heated discussion over it Very Happy

Like most things ... do some research and decide whats best for you & your garden. There is tons of published info & you won't have to search far on most forums to find a topic concerning whether it's needed or not.

Pinching or not-pinching won't mean the sucess or failure of your crop or gardening season.
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