What is the general consensus about pruning the sucker shoots off of tomatoes? I don't plant bush types, because I don't have the space, and I do stake my plants, but I can't decide if pruning is more helpful than not pruning. Any thoughts?
Think of them as lateral branches. The reason to prune is to shape the plant and to open it up to increase airflow. Some times they are pruned to try to get them to fruit sooner. It depends on your particular situation. Try some each way
2011 we had lots of tomatoes staked in our garden. I kept them pruned to main stem. We got loads of very big tomatoes. Ripened earlier than other peoples tomatoes.
Didn't do it last year & had a lousy crop. I will be back to pruning this year.
I have pruned in my hoop houses for last 15 years. It's a must in there.
I try to remove the suckers on my indeterminate tomatoes and I have always a huge crop.
I have a few small determinate varieties that grow like shrubs and I don't remove the suckers there. Example for the Gold Nugget tomato plant.
But yes, 99% I remove the suckers.
Since I plant many varieties close together, If I don't remove the suckers I will just have a giant tangle.
The plants will have more ventilation and sun between the leaves avoiding any kind of problem.
Ok, this is going to sound incredibly stupid, I'm sure, but when you say prune to main stem, CountryGardens, does that mean that you have the main stem and then you have , say, a branch (ignore incorrect terminology) coming off it and then you remove absolutely every sort of tertiary branch that begins to grow from that secondary branch? I don't know if I've explained that well enough. I have a mental block about pruning and am convinced that I never quite understand what I'm supposed to do whether it's tomatoes, fruit trees, kiwis, hazelnuts, raspberries...
Thank you, CountryGardens. It looks basically like you're just diligently removing suckers, right? I do have one more question - do you prune aggressively the bottom 12 or 18" of the main stem to keep leaves off the ground?
Well with this advise and great pictures I may have to try pruning. I just seemed to me in the past that the more branches and leaves the better the plant would perform. But I guess not. It still seems counter intuitive but I am going to try it this year with some of my plants for comparison.
I think a lot of it has to do with your growing conditions. Here, in the heat and humidity, pruning allows for better air circulation. That being said I've gotten a ton of tomatoes from plants that are sprawling, and not even staked.