How to Prune Tomatoes for High Yields and Why You Should Always Do It

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It’s true, I accept it. Tomatoes are my absolute favorite. Every spring, I prepare my tomato harvest and attempt to grow as many varieties as possible. I picture myself knee-deep in riches, with baskets brimming over with riches. The unavoidable eventually occurred a year later.

I got swept up in my work and left the tomatoes to fend for themselves. My harvest was underwhelming.

After that, I learned how to prune tomatoes to boost my yields. You harvest more tomatoes than you ever imagined if you prune them at the right time and in the right way.

Let’s explore pruning tomatoes for high yields whether you’re a tomato lover, a serious grower, or a beginner.

Why You Should Prune Tomato Plants

Pruning tomato plants isn’t just a way to get higher yields; it’s also beneficial. Before we get to the actual process of pruning tomatoes, there are a few more things that we should discuss. You help your tomato plant in a variety of ways when you trim for large harvests.

1. Prolongs Harvest

When you trim your tomato plant, the amount of power it devotes to leaves is decreased, and the foliage is directed toward the fruit. This results in more fruit being produced over a longer period of time.

2. Prevents Disease

Airflow goes through the plant more easily since there is less foliage. Many tomato diseases are prevented as a result of this. Pruning contributes to plant health, which helps the plant fight disease and focus all of its resources on fruit development.

3. Larger Fruit

That’s correct; you’ll get bigger harvests as well as bigger fruit with this method. Your individual fruits should be larger than if you don’t prune since there is more energy available for fruiting over a longer period of time.

4. Stops Excessive Growth of Foliage

A tomato plant can grow twice its size in less than 15 days when it is younger and before fruiting. If the plant lays on the ground after it sets fruits and begins to weigh them down, it will be difficult to maintain.

There is a chance that a tomato plant will fall, fracture, or develop health problems if it grows to be 18 inches tall and has not been trimmed.

If left to its own devices, an indeterminate tomato plant may cover a vast area. It will have a low harvest at that point, making it diseased.

5. Earlier Ripening

Since there is less foliage using up precious nutrients, energy, and sugars, pruning your tomato plant promotes the harvest of the fruit sooner.

How to Prune a Tomato Plant for High Yields

When it comes to tomato plants, there are a few different pruning methods. You’ll discover what approach you like over time, as well as how it affects your harvest and overall plant health.

Remove The Suckers for High Yields

The suckers develop on the axis of the stem and branches, sometimes called side shoots or laterals. The suckers develop their own flowers and fruit if you leave them be, just like the stem of a tomato plant.

Nonetheless, they are frequently used to expand in size and steal vital energy from the rest of the plant.

  • When the suckers are less than half an inch long, remove them. You can pinch them off with a finger on one side and a fingernail on the other at this size. For a clean cut, pinch and pull.
  • Snap them off the plant if they are bigger than half an inch to roughly four inches long, but make sure they are completely broken before you remove them. Since you didn’t fully detach the sucker, it’s simple to take a strip off the stem.
  • Since suckers have a thin cut that takes time to heal, it is not advised to trim them with a garden knife or similar. It is, however, the finest method when they get huge and thick. Make sure it’s a cleanly made cut right next to the stem. The wound site will rot and probably become infected if you leave a stump.
  • Check for and remove suckers at least once a week when the tomato is in its peak growth period.

When it comes to how to get rid of suckers, there are two schools of thought. Remove the top section of the sucker, leaving the bottom section intact. You leave some sucker leaves on to help with photosynthesis and prevent sun scold of the fruit and plant, according to the theory behind this idea.

To keep the main plant and fruit from receiving essential nutrients, you must remove the whole sucker. Airflow and sunlight into the plant are also helped by removing the sucker in its entirety.

Pinch the Main Stem for High Yields

Tomatoes, like many vegetables and other plants, benefit from pruning the main stem’s center leaves.

Rather of growing taller and thinner, you must do this to intensify the plant’s thickness and compactness. Since they are putting energy into fruit development, not spreading the vine out, tomato plants with their core pinched out grow bigger tomatoes.

A pinched plant that is compact is also much easier to stake or tie.

Cut the vertical center stem to the desired size for the plant. If the plant is at the same height as the support, cut it back once it reaches that height. That’s a good guideline to follow.

You’ll need to cut or pinch out the main growing stem of most tomato plants frequently throughout the season because they’re so vigorous.

Thin Tomato Plants for High Yields

Thinning out or removing portions of the branches is another pruning strategy for tomato plants for a higher yield. We’ve already discussed removing the suckers and pinching off the main growing stem. Both of these strategies store energy for future additions and bigger additions.

Thinning helps to achieve the same result by removessively removing some of the excess branches and leaves.

After you remove laterals and pinch out the main growing stem, tomato plants will frequently become very bushy. As a result, more energy is spent on sustaining the branches and leaves rather than producing high-quality fruit.

Just cut away the branches that have no flowers or fruit. You will notice an expansion in the size and quantity of your fruit simply by maintaining enough for a thriving plant.

Remove the lower branches and leaves, particularly those that are in contact with the soil, while you’re doing this, since this is how many soil-borne diseases get onto tomato plants.

When to Prune Tomato Plants for High Yields

When it comes to pruning tomatoes, timing is important.

Early to the Middle of the Season

  • Early on and during the growing phase, remove the suckers or laterals.
  • until the tomato plant is at least 18 inches tall, prune off or remove flowers.
  • Before you put the tomato plant in the garden, remove any flowers that have formed. This enables the plant to concentrate on producing extra fruit (for greater yields) while simultaneously growing strong and healthy.

Mid to Late Season

  • To stop the plant from growing and towering, pinch the main stem in the middle. This ensures that all of the plant’s remaining energy and sugars go towards fruit development and development.
  • Any extra vegetation, including laterals, should be kept trimming. Remember to keep your branches as short as you can without cutting them. This keeps any stumps from rotting and becoming infected.

Not all Tomato Plants Need Pruning

To boost yield, only indeterminate tomatoes must be trimmed. In reality, pruning a determinate tomato vine may result in a lower crop. What distinguishes between indefinite and definite?

Tomatoes with determinate growth reach a specific height before producing and ripening their fruit.

Vining and continuing to develop and produce fruit all season, determinate is indeterminate. Pruning is effective on indeterminate because of this. Both volume and size are being concentrated on by using all of that growth energy to set fruit and mature it.

3 Top Tips for Pruning Tomato Plants For High Yields

  1. When the foliage is wet, don’t prune tomato plants. This may allow illness and bacteria to reach the wounds by seepage. Prune on a dry day and every time the plant has received enough warm sunlight.
  2. When the suckers or laterals are smallest, remove them. Throughout the season, continue doing this every week (or more often if you have the time). If you try it once or twice, the tomato plant will just keep producing them, causing both yield and fruit size to suffer.
  3. When the plant is the same height as the cage, stake, or at whatever height you desire, pinch off the main stem. You can wait until late in the season if you want, but just make sure to monitor for additional growth to pinch off every few weeks. Also, before the first frost, pinch off the main growing stem so that all of the plant’s remaining energy is focused on developing and growing in size.

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