Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tomato question

I just learned that determinate tomatoes fruit once and then they kind of stop. Obviously, to get fruit from determinate tomatoes all season long, we need to stagger their planting.

My question is; if I pinch a sucker off a determinate tomato, can I fool mother nature and get a plant that will fruit? Or will the tomato genes know that they are done fruiting for the season?

What if I do some extreme pruning? Will that allow me to coax another set of fruit from the plant?
Extreme pruning is just that, pruning the plant to the extreme. I read somewhere that a tomato only needs three leaves to live (that is leaves, not leaflets) and that by pruning extremely, all of the plant's energy goes into producing fruit.

Has anyone tried either one of these techniques?

Inquiring minds want to know!

I am off to pinch a determinate tomato plant's sucker.


  1. I don't know the answer to your question. Sorry. But I will tell you that I tried the staggered planting last year and darn if they didn't all come into fruit at once. However, as most of the Deter. that I grow are for canning, it actually works out better that way. I have seen vertically grown tomato plants with very few leaves and a whole lot of stem.

  2. Melissa,
    It figures! Thank you for the tip. I guess staggering is out of the question. :-)

  3. I don't know about the determinates, but I do know that you can prune a tomato plant aggressively and have it live. My Super-100's cherry tomato plants are like that. I accidentally lopped the entire plant off at the base last spring and by fall it was producing fruit.

    However -- I did also try the extreme pruning technique with some Roma plants that were fruiting, and it was NOT successful. In fact, some of the fruit 'died', rotted, and fell off. I got much better harvests out of the plants that I just left alone (suckers and all), although this year I'm judiciously pruning a little more heavily because of my constrained growing space, and I'm very much trying to keep the indeterminates to a single main stem.

  4. Karl,
    I've let Indeterminates go before and I always regret it in late Summer, when they are huge, unmanageable messes, so I was hoping that extreme pruning was the answer. Now I know not to try it with Romas, which I've grown occasionally in the past.
    I'd like to see you post pictures of your indeterminates later in the season.