Pruning Tomato Suckers

Pruning Tomato Suckers
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Pruning tomato suckers is easy and something you should do to help your plant focus on producing fruit and for general health of your plants. Suckers grow in the crotch of a plant, in this case tomatoes, created by the main stem and branch. These eventually grow to the same size as the main stem, using up valuable nutrients and water. 
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The best time to prune suckers from your tomato plants is early in the morning while the stems are turgid. You can use a pair of pruners or you can simply snap them off using your stem and forefinger like in the image above. 
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Some tomato growers don't see the point in pruning tomato suckers because the suckers will flower and produce fruit too. Pruning off something that will give you more tomatoes seems counter intuitive, right? But I'm looking for quality not quantity. 
You can click on the image to the right to enlarge it. I've marked a sucker I failed to remove early on in the plant's life. The sucker is almost as large as the main stem now, and as you can see is producing suckers of its own. The second sucker, growing down and at an angle, is touching the soil, which will lead to a host of other problems if not taken care of.
Why I'm Pruning my Tomato Plants
The main reason I'm pruning is because this tomato plant is indeterminate-- meaning It will continue to grow until killed by frost--If I were to let every sucker grow the plant would become heavy and hard to manage. I'm growing my tomatoes in a container where space, nutrients and water aren't as abundant as if I were growing it in the ground. Also, like I mentioned above , I want my plants to focus on producing the best fruits so I can save seeds to share and plant next year. 
Tips.
Prune your tomatoes early in the morning before the plants transpire in the heat of the day. 
Remove any yellowing or discolored leaves.
If the suckers are too thick to easily snap off; use a pair of clean garden pruners. Disinfect your pruners, by cleaning the blades, between plants to prevent passing on diseases.
When pruning any plant less is more. You can comfortably leave a sucker or two on your plant to help increase your yield.  
After pruning your tomatoes inspect the plant for signs of pests and disease. Removing a large sucker will open up a plant and allow you to see something you didn't spot before.
 
Related Tomato Posts.

Comments

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  • Great advice that comes at a perfect time. Thanks!

  • In reply to jtye:

    You're welcomed jtye. Don't forget that your herbs, like basil, also benefit from being pinched. http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-garden/2009/08/pinching-basil-flowers-in-herb-garden.html Remove the blooms to extend their life and your harvest.

  • In reply to jtye:

    How are you able to write so neatly in PS? Whenever I try it comes out looking like I'm a crazed serial killer. Man, those tomatoes are looking good--better than mine, of course! One I gave my friend Nita is like 3x the size of the same variety I have. Did you like my ties, btw? They are torn from a bag that held cherry tomatoes. BTW, the last photo doesn't enlarge.

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    That writing is a font, not my actual handwriting. Although, I do have a tablet which I could use to "write" and it would look better than trying to write with a mouse.

    The ones you gave me are about 3 feet tall. I expect them to be about 4 feet tall by mid next week. I like the ties, I thought they were made from onion bags, which I store to use around the garden.

    I see that about the pic, don't know how I messed it up. Hopefully it is large enough for people to be able to see what I mean about the tomatoes and tomato suckers.

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    I was near fanatical about pinching out suckers last year, but this year, just haven't had the time. I really need to get out there and clean them up. Our hot, humid weather has made such a difference in tomato plant growth this year - my plants are monsters, poised to take over the world, especially the ones in the raised bed.

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