Topping an indeterminate (Black Cherry)

jdcooper(9b / Sunset 14)June 28, 2013

I have a quite tall (pushing 8') but rather crappy looking Black Cherry tomato plant growing in a 25gal Smart Pot.

It has very little leaf mass and the foliage on the lower 1.5 - 2' of the plant was dying from the leaves inward, so I cut off those branches too.

That said the top is growing well and there is a bunch of fruit and it is producing new flowers. However it's getting way too tall to reach, and importantly, to trellis.

If I chop off the growing tips, will it produce new suckers down below? If not, or even if so, is there any way I can encourage it to grow new suckers on the lower portion of the stem?

Thanks!

This post was edited by jdcooper on Sat, Jun 29, 13 at 21:53

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fcivish(Zone 6 Utah)

Why not just let them fold back down, rather than cut them off. You live in zone 9. It might be getting a bit warm to expect much growth for the rest of summer. Your plants are probably going semi-dormant from the heat. Maybe you could trim them in September? OR, you could isolate different main leaders (stems) and trim off the top half or 2/3 of every other one, giving them a chance to start growing again, then trim off the rest. That way it isn't all or nothing

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 10:08PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

If I chop off the growing tips, will it produce new suckers down below? If not, or even if so, is there any way I can encourage it to grow new suckers on the lower portion of the stem?

Basically, no. That's not the nature of vining plants. New growth, new production will always be at the top end of the vine and circulation is gradually reduced and then cut off from the lower branches. Which is why topping indeterminates isn't recommended unless you don't care if you lose all that production,

Instead as most of us do, just support it to 6' and then let all the new growth drape back down over the support and continue to grow. The vines do fine and you get more tomatoes.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 10:11PM
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jdcooper(9b / Sunset 14)

It didn't occur to me to let the growth drape back down! I guess I assumed that they would break under the weight of the tomato trusses + vines.

Thanks for the advice -- I'll give it a shot if the crazy heat (pushing 110 at peak I'll bet) doesn't kill the plant outright.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:56PM
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    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 11:13PM
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ffreidl
    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 1:00AM
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jdcooper(9b / Sunset 14)

Thanks!

This post was edited by jdcooper on Tue, Jul 2, 13 at 14:30

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:29PM
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overdrive

try to gradually bend it over a period of 2-3 days, and gradually turn it into an "S" shape, so you can bury the upper part of the stem in soil. It will root within 7 days, and then you will have a much shorter plant to deal with. In nature, the tomato falls over and roots itself on its own - that's what I would try. Black Cherry is highly vigorous and will get to 8 - 10 feet easily in some climates. So try to slightly crack the stem about 1/3 of the way up, and then crack it again, to make an "S" out of it, and form new roots. This might give it new life and it will turn into a monster Black Cherry bush for you. That's what I would do. I did this with a Black Krim that I was growing indoors, and it was getting to tall for indoor growing, so I just let the cane fall down, then let it root, and then it will sprout huge number of new leaders, without getting a check on growth. Severe topping will result in a severe check on growth, so I would do it by my method.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 2:57PM
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fcivish(Zone 6 Utah)

I would just position the stems in approximately the position you want them (but still growing upwards, of course) and then let gravity and nature gradually bend them as they outgrow their support. They rarely crack the stems or damage themselves in this way. They will rarely grow more than a foot and a half above their last support point before they start to tip over, and will not even get that far if they are loaded with tomatoes, but they don't generally hurt themselves if they gradually grow 'over' and start growing down again.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 5:59PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

There are different schools of tomato gardening, to trim or not to trim. I am for trimming to keep things down to size and under control. having said that, my small fruited maters are close to 6 foot tall , with gazillion of flowers. I am going to stop their top growth soon. Each has about 4 branches. They just keep growing as you look at them. My situation is that I do not have 16 sqr-ft per plant(4' x4'') . So pruning is a must not an option.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2013 at 2:57AM
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