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How to Prune Tomatoes for a Higher Fruit Yield

Tomatoes have been a long-time favorite of gardeners everywhere. Even those who do not fancy themselves as gardeners have grown tomatoes in pots near their house or on a terrace at their apartments for years. While tomatoes come in hundreds of sizes and varieties, it is important to get the ones that best suit your desire. Determinate types of tomatoes are those who have a limited size and produce almost all their fruit at once, while indeterminate types grow much larger and set fruit throughout the growing season.

Many who process tomatoes for sauces and canning will search for the determinate types so that they get a higher yield all at one time. This makes it easier to get their processes done all at one time as well. On the other hand, the people who like tomatoes for immediate use, such as for salads and sandwiches, will often choose the indeterminate plants for their size and the fact that they produce smaller amounts of fruit at a time but their production season is quite extended. This allows for small gatherings throughout the summer versus one harvest.

No matter which type of plant you choose, careful pruning can help to produce a higher fruit yield and larger sizes. However, you want to bear in mind that determinate varieties will only need very light pruning early in the season or it may prove to be counterproductive. Indeterminate types can withstand many and more aggressive prunings, leaving you with a fuller and higher-producing plant.

First, you will need to examine your plant for any yellowing leaves. If you see signs of yellowing, you may want to begin by removing these limbs as they are draining valuable energy and nutrients from the rest of the plant. Check your plants weekly for fading limbs and leaves. Remove them promptly to ensure that your plant remains healthy through the growing season. The yellow leaves may also signal that more fertilizer is needed.

Next look over the plant for “suckers”. These will be small shoots growing from the base of larger limbs. When you find a sucker, you will want to take that off immediately. Since suckers can grow very rapidly you may find yourself cutting them off once or twice a week throughout the growing season.

Topping your tomatoes is not necessary, but you may want to do this late in the season when the threat of frost is near so that the fruit that the plant has already set can have time to mature before the frost. This will prevent new fruit from setting on and robbing the existing fruit of much-needed energy to complete their growth cycle.

While you do not have to prune your tomatoes, it does help to produce higher quality fruit and a healthier plant for the fruit to grow on. Enjoy your efforts!