There are two varieties of tomatoes which are the determinate and the indeterminate, however, we’ll treat how to prune determinate tomatoes in this article.
Determinate tomatoes are those that reach a specific mature size and ripen all of their fruit in a short amount of time (usually about two weeks).
The plant’s strength will begin to wane once this first flush of fruit has ripened, and it will produce little to no additional fruit.
Because they do not continue to expand in length during the growing season, determinate tomato types are commonly referred to as “bush” tomatoes.
In comparison to indeterminate tomatoes, they are often smaller plants, growing to a compact height of 4 to 5 feet.
Deciduous tomatoes don’t need to be pruned or suckers removed because they reach maturity on their own.
Staking or caging is still advised, despite their small stature. Once all of the fruits have set and begun to plump up and mature, they will be carrying a heavy load. Because this might put a lot of strain on the branches, staking will help the plant.
When you need a lot of tomatoes at once for juice, sauces, or canning, determinate tomatoes are the way to go. Several paste or Roma tomatoes, such as ‘San Marzano’ and ‘Amish Paste,’ are determinate varieties.
Others have been designed to be determinate, allowing them to be harvested in bulk at once. ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Marglobe,’ and ‘Rutgers’ are among them.
How To Prune Determinate Tomatoes
To Prune determinate tomatoes effectively the following factors must be considered:
What to prune
Pruning the suckers at the bottom of tomato plants is standard practice. This approach has the advantage of increased airflow, which may aid in the treatment of foliar diseases.
When determinate tomato shoots reach a terminal bud, they remain dormant. Most of us are aware that if suckers are trimmed excessively, the production of the plant may suffer.
However, there is some ambiguity about what should be pruned.
The bottom 6-7 suckers should generally be pruned until the first bloom cluster appears.
However, it’s worth noting that the sucker directly under the first flower cluster grows a very strong shoot that will provide a significant quantity of tomatoes.
We’ve found that leaving this sucker alone and pruning everything underneath it works well.
When to prune
When the first flower clusters begin to bloom, it’s time to prune suckers. It’s hard to identify precisely what to trim if suckers are pruned before the first bloom cluster forms.
When plants are pruned too late, until the suckers have grown large, suckers are removed, resulting in massive sores on the stem, which enable pathogen infection.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the lesions should be allowed to dry out as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of illness infection.
With this in mind, the optimum time to prune the plants is usually in the morning on a sunny day.
Importance Of Pruning Tomatoes
Tomatoes’ inherent vitality and resilience nearly always achieve a better crop. The fast growth of a healthy tomato plant, on the other hand, can cause issues. A tomato is a sugar refinery that runs on solar electricity.
All of the sugar it makes during the first month or so is dedicated toward new leaf growth.
Tomato plants grow quickly during this period, doubling in size every 12 to 15 days. The plants likely produce more sugar than the single growing tip can use, signaling the plant to branch out and blossom.
This normally occurs after the plant has grown to a height of 12 to 18 inches and has expanded 10 to 13 leaves.
The tomato plant’s whole personality evolves during the next few weeks. If the plant is not supported, the weight of the filled fruit and several side branches causes it to fall to the ground.
There is a higher likelihood to branch after the main stem is horizontal.
A robust indeterminate tomato plant can quickly fill a 4-foot by 4-foot area with as many as 10 stems, each 3 to 5 feet long if left to its ways.
It will be an unattractive, impenetrable, disease-ridden tangle by the end of the season.