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I cut off my plant's central stem

Posted by AaronPee none (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 29, 13 at 0:20

This is my second year growing tomatoes, still a novice. It appears I cut the top of the central stem off of one of my plants-- an indeterminate Zebra Green-- while pruning, and didn't notice until a couple of days later. Now all my other plants have flowers, but this one just has leaf growth and doesn't seem to be gaining height. Did I ruin this plant's chances of setting fruit, or is it possible the plant will generate a new central stem?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

I've seen tomato plants that are pruned by cutting the top half of the plant off, right at the central stem. Growers do this to encourage the plant to grow out rather than up.

Your plant should recover if the root system is intact and healthy.


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

You should have suckers coming out of the existing branches. They will form new stems.


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

Heheh, miesenbacher, I actually pinched all the suckers too; but yes, there will undoubtedly be more!


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

I constantly try to wrap my head around why people seem to feel a need to prune their tomatoes. I say, just let em grow. (Unless you NEED to open up the center for airflow to prevent disease or something.) I trim neither 'suckers' nor stems nor central leaders. I do know that other people do it differently. I just doubt all their 'efforts' are actually helping.

Anyway, having cut off the growing top is not a disaster by any means. Just don't trim any more, and let the tomato find its own way. It should have one or more good growing tips within 2 weeks or so.


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

fcivish: I read that for determinate varieties, which produce their fruit all at once, it is better not to prune, except to remove lower stems early on to help strengthen the central stem. I read that for indeterminate varieties, which continue to produce fruit until frost or so, pruning suckers as well as non-fruit-bearing stems is recommended as it will increase the size of fruits as well as the overall yield measured by pounds.

But, as my original post states, this is my second year growing tomatoes, and my first year keeping notes for future reference, so my practices are all based on hearsay.


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

I read that for indeterminate varieties, which continue to produce fruit until frost or so, pruning suckers as well as non-fruit-bearing stems is recommended as it will increase the size of fruits as well as the overall yield measured by pounds.

One can read all sorts of things but that doesn't make them true, or even worth trying. There is ample research available, and discussions here about it, that proves that what you read is NOT true.

You may get a marginal increase in the size of some of the fruit but the overall amount will be substantially reduced.

Your choice.

Dave


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

This pruning suckers things goes back at least 40 years, passed down among home gardeners. We did it growing up. A lot has been researched and learned since then and lot more info is available to you via the web. The problem is people keep passing along the old stuff without finding out if its true or if there is a better way first. I second what Dave said. Just because you read it doesn' t make it true. The problem is that so many people believe this you read it a lot and assume so many people can't be wrong. They can.


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

I grow around 125 to 150 tomato plants each year, for fun and breeding, and I have been doing it for DECADES (I won't say how long, exactly). Almost ALL of my tomatoes are indeterminates. I just don't LIKE determinates, for the most part. (For one thing, Indeterminates usually beat Determinates for TASTE, because they are NOT bred for commercial farm production, where appearance and shipping ability are paramount, but taste is not very important.)

I put all of my tomatoes into large, 54 inch tall cages and similar things, including home made tomato towers. I NEVER NEVER NEVER deliberately trim a tomato plant off, or a sucker or any type of branch, unless I NEED to do so for some reason. Naturally, there is almost never a real NEED to do so. I actually go YEARS between deliberately trimming a single branch.

My tomatoes grow well, grow all season long, produce early and keep producing right up to frost. I have never seen ANY evidence from ANY source that trimming tomato plants, branches, suckers, etc produces more fruit, better fruit or larger fruit.

That is why I said I just have trouble wrapping my head around the ideas that some people have that we must trim trim trim our tomatoes. I'm just like, "WOW!"


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RE: I cut off my plant's central stem

It is well known in the Orchard industry that pruning your trees is actually a stunting technique.

I think it is the same thing with tomatoes, though this may be less obvious.

Each stem, branch and leaf is a source of production for the tomato. The chloroplasts process sunlight in all the green areas and turn it into sugar. This sugar is then used to make such things as starch, cellulose, pectin and other components of the plant and fruit. In other words, consider each little leaf and twig to be a miniature motor for your plant, providing it with growth and fruit potential. It is true you might not need ALL of those motors. And by trimming some of them, you might force the remaining ones to be more efficient, but you will NEVER increase efficiency enough to replace what you have removed, in my opinion.

Mother nature knows best. The genes of the tomato plant direct it to grow and take maximum advantage of the conditions it sees. I think it sees better than you do, in almost all circumstances.

(I do want to make clear I am not condemning you. Many people trim their tomatoes. Hey, they are your tomatoes, you can do what you want. I am just trying to state my case for my personal belief about why people might not want to do that.)


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