Removing branches good or bad idea?

EcopalOctober 9, 2011

Hey everybody,

The flowers on my better boy tomato have started to open. I know that in order to get big tomatoes I need to remove the suckers and I have done that. But I saw this video on YouTube that says that every branch below the first cluster of flowers should be removed and basically leave the plant looking like a palm tree. I do not know if this is true or not because just the top leaves alone may not be enough for the plant to properly photosynthesize. What do you guys think?

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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Must be true to somebody ..its on youtube,,,, how much grow season do you have left?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 12:13AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I know that in order to get big tomatoes I need to remove the suckers and I have done that. But I saw this video on YouTube that says that every branch below the first cluster of flowers should be removed and basically leave the plant looking like a palm tree. I do not know if this is true or not because just the top leaves alone may not be enough for the plant to properly photosynthesize.

No offense but none of that is true. None of it. Search 'pruning' here and you'll find a FAQ and many discussions that explain why ANY pruning is purely optional, depends on your method of plant support, and not required in any way.

What is commonly recommended is to remove the few lower branches that will touch the ground to help prevent soil-borne diseases.

Take more care in selecting your info sources. From your description that video sounds like more of the so-called 'tomato magic' fad. It is so far out that its a joke and just trying to get you to buy their book.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:24AM
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Dweomer

On indeterminate varieties, we remove the bottom 3 branches each week. We start removing them just about the time that we're getting ready to pick the first fruit. Removing more than 3-5 branches at a time shocks the plants but you can pull the bottom 3 every 3-4 days without a problem during periods of rapid growth. We find that they do best with about 3-3.5 feet of foliage left on them.

On determinate varieties we remove everything below the first major branching and then remove everything below the first flower on each branch a few days later. After that, we just let 'em grow.

If your growing season is about over

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Dweomer

Oops!

If your growing season is about over, I wouldn't change what you're doing.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:55PM
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yumtomatoes(10a/FLA)

"On indeterminate varieties, we remove the bottom 3 branches each week. . . . We find that they do best with about 3-3.5 feet of foliage left on them."

Why do you do this? What do you mean that they do best with only about 3-3.5 foot of foliage on them? Best how?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 7:07AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Dweomer - according to your member page you are a commercial hydroponic grower. Hydroponic growing under cover isn't comparable. It is a whole different ballgame.

The originally referenced video sounds like it is just another part of the so-called "Organic Tomato Magic" rip-off that has been discussed here several times in the past. Linked one discussion below. Just Google that phrase for more info.

The authors of it have several different websites etc. all devoted to selling their book.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: OTM - hype discussions

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Dweomer

Posted by yumtomatoes 10a/FLA (My Page) on Sun, Oct 16, 11 at 7:07

"On indeterminate varieties, we remove the bottom 3 branches each week. . . . We find that they do best with about 3-3.5 feet of foliage left on them."
Why do you do this? What do you mean that they do best with only about 3-3.5 foot of foliage on them? Best how?

It's just another method of cultivating tomatoes. We keep the vines suckered back to a single main stem and, once they begin to ripen the first fruits, we pull off the bottom 3 branches every 5-7 days. This causes the vine to produce 3 more branches in order to compensate for the loss. Since most indeterminates grow a flower cluster every 3-4 branches, this means they produce additional clusters of fruit.

Like I said: We find that, on a single vine, 3-3.5 feet of foliage is about optimal to support a large number of fruit clusters without giving extra room for insect and other infestations. We leave the fruit exposed for easy picking and best ventilation in the greenhouse.

It may seem counterintuitive but each leaf requires energy from the plant to sustain itself. At some point, the plant uses so much energy for vegetative growth (sustaining the foliage) that it diminishes the energy that can be used for reproductive growth (flowering and fruiting). We wait until the vegetative stage is well established and then start removing some of the leaves to keep it in the reproductive mode.

It's just one technique among hundreds of techniques. It works best for long growing seasons or when you've got your plants started very early and you want to harvest from one plant for a long time.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 4:46PM
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Dweomer

Posted by digdirt 6 -7 AR (My Page) on Sun, Oct 16, 11 at 12:03

Dweomer - according to your member page you are a commercial hydroponic grower. Hydroponic growing under cover isn't comparable. It is a whole different ballgame.
The originally referenced video sounds like it is just another part of the so-called "Organic Tomato Magic" rip-off that has been discussed here several times in the past. Linked one discussion below. Just Google that phrase for more info.

The authors of it have several different websites etc. all devoted to selling their book.

Dave
**********************

Hi Dave,

I agree, it sounds like hype to me too.

I was answering the concern that removing the bottom leaves would inhibit photosynthesis. We find that, once the vegetative growth phase is well established (about when the first fruits begin to ripen) removing the bottom branches helps with the culturing of the plants and does not inhibit plant growth or photosynthesis.

Everybody has their own techniques. Some are transferable between systems and some are not. I have also grown determinate field tomatoes on a commercial scale and we removed the bottom leaves as I described in my first post.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Dweomer

Here's a picture of when we were trimming them back to about 5 feet of foliage per plant. The vines in these photos are about 15-18 feet long. We later settled on about 3-3.5 feet of foliage as the best system for our greenhouses.

Again, it's a technique.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 5:49PM
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