Did you know that tomato is one of the most commonly grown vegetables in the entire world? Well, I thought you should know. The popularity and use of this veggie have also earned it a nickname whereby some people prefer calling it kingpin of the garden.
Anyone can grow tomatoes but what separates a good grower and a “bad” one of the kind of care you employ when growing the crop. There are various services that you need to carry out while the plant is growing and one of them is pruning.
What is pruning?
Pruning of tomato or vegetable refers to the process of getting rid of the large, dead or even unwanted part(s) of the plants. These parts include the branch, the bud, roots, and even the stems.
The primary purpose of pruning vegetables is to create a room or allow the best parts of the plant to grow well to increase or improve the fruitfulness. Note that in some cases, people opt to prune their plants to create a better crescent shape on the plants.
This is essential as it improves the stability of the plant without forgetting its health too. Other benefits that you may reap for pruning your plants include; increase of the quality growth of the pant, and such plants tend to yield healthy fruits as well.
Importance of pruning tomato plants
As we all know, tomatoes tend to grow quite fast, and therefore, pruning helps the plant to increase its production and stability. The growth occurs on the leaves whereby they become broader and stronger after pruning a change which is noticeable within the first two weeks of pruning.
Tomatoes are in two groups which include determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes usually have thick leaves while indeterminate consists of thin leaves also referred to as vine leaves.
The indeterminate tomatoes grow fast and thus, require more pruning since if the plant exceeds in weight due to the overgrowing leaves, it may easily break on the stem or even drop.
This can cause a considerable loss for the farmer especially if the ground is wet as the wetness tends to damage the tomatoes that touch the ground. Another con of this act is that the vegetables may end up yielding less than anticipates as the branches are not healthy and some may be damaged.
What causes all the damages on the branches?
Ones the branches of the plant drop to the ground, the branch tends to find the nearest support on the ground, and in most cases, this could be weeds such as the grass and other nearby plants. Then the branches of the tomatoes get entangled to the blades of the herbs.
So, the damage occurs when the farmer tries to untangle the vegetables from the grass or other plants. For the safety of your tomato plant and the fruits, pruning is one of the necessary steps that you should not omit in your growing process.
If you don’t have enough time to prune your tomatoes, or if you are not good at it, then I would recommend that you plant the determinate tomatoes as they require less to no pruning.
Alternatively, take your time and learn a few steps on how to successfully prune your tomatoes for better production.
Without further ado, the following are steps to follow when pruning your tomatoes.
1. Know the type of vegetable you are growing
Knowing the group of tomato on your farm is crucial as it guides you to determine how to prune it correctly. Both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes grow differently whereby the determinate grow in full form and usually establish themselves before they increase in bushy form. On the other hand, indeterminate plants require guidance on how to thrive in upright form to enable them to grow accordingly.
Some of the varieties of these two types of tomatoes that you can find in the market include;
Indeterminate class; Big Boy, Beef Master, Black Prince, German queen, and cherry tomatoes to name a few.
Determinate tomatoes; ace 55, Amelia, Better Bush, Biltmore, Heat master and also the Heinz Classic.
2. Know where to prune
Remember not all parts of the tomatoes are supposed to remove and therefore, you need to figure out the parts that require pruning. The growing stems also referred to as suckers are the parts that require pruning.
This is because allowing these parts to grow may slow down the plant considering they need more energy to grow which can only be drained from the rest of the plant.
Tip: Do the pruning after the stems and leaves located below the first yield set of flowers turn yellow.
3. Remove the entire branch of sucker situated below the first flower cluster.
Note that this step applies to all types of tomatoes as it helps to ensure that the nutrients are directly transferred to the fruits and not wasted on the suckers. It also helps the plant to grow and yield better.
Tip: make sure to prune the suckers when they are still young and stable.
For those living in warmer zones and you would like to prune some stems and leaves on the tomatoes, do so once they turn yellow since they are helpful for shielding the plant when they are still green and healthy. But if you live in humid areas, make sure to remove these parts together with the prunes to allow ventilation.
4. Do not touch the thick shoots.
It is advisable that you avoid pruning the thick shoots on the stem to avoid damaging the plant. The full shoot somehow offers support to the plant, and its leaves may also aid in the photosynthesis process. But if you feel like the shoots have to be removed, use the Missouri pruning which involves the removal of the tip of the sucker.
Tip: Make sure to prune your tomatoes all around the summer season to keep the plants healthy.
5. For indeterminate plants leave about four or five trusses for fruit bearing.
The indeterminate plants require being free as much as possible for stability hence the need to leave only the necessary trusses. The most appropriate branches to retain are the ones that grow above the first flower cluster.
Tips: Ensure the vine plants are supported by tying on a solid object to prevent them from falling off ones they start producing fruits.
6. Remove yellow leaves.
As the plant continues to grow, the lower leaves also mature and starts to turn yellow. So, make sure to remove these leaves at this stage to prevent them from absorbing the nutrients required by the other parts of the plant.
7. Top the tomatoes.
Topping the tomatoes especially before the first expected frost, or when the plant grows to a reasonable level helps to increase production at the end of the season. So, ones you prune the suckers, top the plant to ensure all the nutrients get directed to the fruits.