Tomato Plants Too Tall!

patlovesdirt(8 NC)June 27, 2009

I have this problem every year. I currently have 3 tomato plants growing in cages that are anchored by stakes. In the center of each cage I hammered in a 6' tall sturdy stake to which I've tied the plants as they grow taller. What do I do when the plants run out of stake space to support the main stems? Last year, the plants folded over on themselves with nothing left to support them. Is it a good idea to start "topping" each plant? All 3 are healthy and bearing profusly so far. If I cut the tops off, will that affect the plant's production for the rest of the season?

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Bets(z6A S ID)

Hi Pat,

Many people just let them fold back over. You have quite a bit of season left, so if you top them, you may be likely to reduce the growth tips that produce blooms. The plants would probably compensate by putting out more laterals, but that will take some time.

Are all 3 plants the same variety? If so you could try topping one and compare the results to the untopped ones.

Ultimately it is up to you.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 1:05PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Just let them drape back down as most do. It doesn't hurt them. I have 8-10' tall plants growing in 6 foot tall cages every year with no problems.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 1:54PM
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Do you remove the side branches. Removing the side branches encourages the plant to grow tall. On every plant the top branch is boss for growth, but side branches take away some of it's power. When you remove the suckers the top branch has free rein to grow tall

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 3:16PM
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Well you can get another tomato cage and invert it and tie it on with plastic tie wraps that is what we did.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 3:32PM
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patlovesdirt(8 NC)

Thanks, y'all - all good ideas! I just had a fabulous idea for dealing with this problem: Make or buy one of those 4-posted arbors with a slatted arched top! Using the same setup I have now with an arbor, the tomatoes can grow up through the top of the arbor and then have lateral support for the vines. I'm off now to see if I've got the materials laying around here.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 4:17PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Some people use a stock panel (aka cattle or hog panel) and make an arch of it; I've seen photos of other veggies grown that way, possibly tomatoes too.

The panels are 16' long and 4-5' wide. By setting the two sides closer together or farther apart, you can have a narrow tall arch or a wider, lower arch. Theoretically gravity would pull a lot of the fruit to hang down inside the arch for easy picking (I think the wire is every 6").

Other people place a stock panel (or part of one) atop a framework for a flat support. It keeps the fruit off the ground, but I've seen some of these that were so low, I don't know how they harvested the fruit....

I think I've also seen panels slanted -- one long side on the ground, the other side propped up at a 45º angle or so.

You can also use pieces of concrete reinforcing wire (CRW), which has the same size holes.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 6:09PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

If you don't let them drape down it'll be a *itch trying to harvest without a ladder.

One of my Sun Golds which is probably 12-14 feet tall is draping down over the peppers on either side. Didn't plan it that way, but it's working out great giving the peppers some much needed shade.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 7:09PM
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patlovesdirt(8 NC)

Thank you very much! I am so inspired by that cattle panel trellis and I wish, wish, wish I could go back in time one month. And to Missingtheobvious, thank you so much for that great link - I've bookmarked it for next year. If Bencjedi should happen to drop by this thread, I think you are brilliant and now I can't wait until next spring.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 8:09PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

patlovesdirt, glad you liked it. There are so many intriguing ways to trellis and cage and support things. I'd like to try them all.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 10:54PM
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