Topping off tomatoes question, Dave, anyone?

sharonrossyJuly 7, 2013

I've read various opinions on how and when and if topping off indeterminates is necessary. My question is with some if the heirlooms, Cuor Di Bue as an example, which is now setting fruit like crazy and sending out all kinds of"suckers", do I just let it grow or should I at some point soon top it off to let the fruit grow and ripen. My concern are the late varieties and the climate I'm in, zone5b, where the weather can change in a heartbeat. I would like opinions on this as I'm growing only heirlooms this year and most are 85-95 days. Not all of them are flowering like CDB, in fact AGG and ARGG have far fewer at this point. I'm not expecting much production from them from what I see so far and Anna Russian is only starting. Brandywine Sudduth, Bloody Butcher doing very well and the blacks are starting to come along.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Lots of discussions here about 'topping plants' and why it isn't recommended. Of course it is always the growers personal choice.

But it depends on if the reason for doing it is valid or not. And the reasons range from "too tall for the cage" in which case the cage is the problem not the plant, to "I don't like the looks" which again isn't the plant's fault, to "I never thought it would get this big" which is a result of not doing any homework before hand.

In this case you are assuming that topping the plant will let the fruit grow and ripen and that isn't what happens.

Topping an indeterminate stimulates new top growth - new vines sprout from the nodes just below the cut off branch. So now you have 2 where 1 was. It is the nature of indeterminates. Plus it triggers the plant back into the vegetative growth mode and out of fruit set/development mode. That defeats your purpose.

So if encouraging the ripening of existing fruit is the goal rather than getting more fruit then topping isn't the answer. That is accomplished with selective fruit removal from clusters that already exist, picking fruit as soon as color breaks, and then most importantly stressing the plant with root pruning. Take a sharp shovel and 6-8" out from the base of the plant carefully slice straight down through some of the roots on 2 sides of the plant. Then water it well and wait. Existing fruit will begin to ripen.

This is assuming you can't just cover the plants to extend your growing season to allow for natural ripening.

So experiment and see what happens and which works best for you. Top one plant if you wish and root prune another and compare the results.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 11:40AM
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Thank you. I'm really not there yet, just debating options. I have done root pruning in the past, but like I said my tomatoes aren't there yet. I frankly am happy to let them grow and grow, with some minor "pinching" here and there.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 9:12PM
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