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Gardening

May 16, 2018

To Sucker Or Not To Sucker


This year I am going to try something I haven't ever done before with my tomatoes.

I am going to remove ALL of the suckers from my plants...

First off, if you don't know what a sucker is, it is basically a clone that a tomato makes of itself at the intersection of the main vine and a branch.

There are two schools of thought regarding whether to remove them or not.

Those who remove them argue:

"If your tomato isn't putting energy into growing a bunch of clones of itself, it will put more energy into developing fruit."

Those who leave them claim:

"The more blossoms you have (even the ones from the suckers) the better chance you have of getting fruit to set. The more fruit that sets, the more tomatoes you end up with by the end of the season."

The debate still rages, but here are a few additional things to consider.

1) Determinant vs Indeterminate.

It is generally not advised to prune determinant tomatoes at all. They will grow to a certain size, set fruit and stop growing to develop and ripen the fruit.

It's kind of like a one and done type of tomato. Most of the fruit is ready at about the same time and then it doesn't produce any more.

You don't want to prune off any of your blossoms because after a certain stage there won't be any more.

Indeterminate tomatoes will grow, blossom, set fruit, develop fruit, ripen fruit, grow more, blossom more etc. all at the same time, and will do it until disease or frost kills the plant.

So as long as it is healthy it will continue to produce tomatoes.

2) Space

If you are growing indeterminate tomatoes they can become very unwieldy pretty quickly.

They keep growing and they keep putting out suckers that keep growing and before long one or two plants can overtake your entire garden.

In that case you might want to prune your tomatoes just for the sake of managing their footprint.

3) Work

Tomatoes are very prolific as mentioned above and to keep the suckers at bay can turn into a part time job in and of itself.

You are going to want to go over you plants about once a week to remove the suckers and if you miss a week it might be hard to tell what is the sucker and what is the main vine.

4 Humidity

If you live in a place that is very humid you might want to prune just so you can remove some foliage so that your plants can get some air flow to them.

Fungal diseases thrive in humid places. They dryer you can keep your tomato leaves the better they will be able to fend off disease.

For myself, I have tended to take a balanced approach to my tomatoes. I try to keep them trimmed up with good airflow, but I haven't been religious about removing every sucker.

This year I'm going to try it and see how it goes! I'm kind of excited about it!

 

I have shared this video before, but if you are interested in giving "suckering" a shot, this does a great job of explaining the best way to do it!



 


 

 

 




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