UACES Facebook Tomato Pruning Demo Trial: Update
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Arkansas Fruit, Vegetable and Nut Update

Tomato Pruning Demo Trial: Update

by Jackie Lee and Amanda McWhirt - April 25, 2018

We received our tomato transplants for the demo trial on April 3. We have patiently nurtured our 12 plants and waited to plant in hopes of missing any late freezes. I am glad we did! The last cold spell took a toll on early planted tomatoes across the state! There will be a lot of replanting going on due to the loss from the freeze. We planted our tomatoes on April 19th and will plan on putting out our first fungicide application in 7-10 days. Our first application will be mancozeb but if you are going the organic route use copper. Remember to keep an eye on your tomatoes for insect pests and to spray fungicides timely, approximately every 7-10 days. Early blight, other diseases, and insect pests can sneak up quick and the fungicide sprays are preventative which means they must be applied before the disease is present. Looking forward to some good Arkansas tomatoes!!!

The first picture is from before planting. The second is after we transplanted in the field.

tomato transplants

tomato pruning


We pruned our Better Boy indeterminate tomatoes early this week to a double leader system. We made a video about how to prune using this method while visiting Mr John Gavin our county agent in Bradley county. 


Here is the basic protocol for pruning to a double leader system:

  1. Remove all suckers up to the one below the first flower cluster. Leave that sucker immediately below the first flower cluster. Then remove all the suckers above that sucker on the main stem.
  2.  By leaving the sucker below the first flower cluster you will train the plant to two stems. On those two stems ( one the main stem and one the sucker left below the first flower cluster) continue to remove suckers.
  3.  Depending on how you have the plants staked or tied up this may become difficult to continue after the plant continues to grow but do your best on the lower part of the plant.

 Here are a few other recommendations:

  • Try to prune in the morning after the dew has burnt off and if possible time so that shortly after you are applying a fungicide application.
  •  Try to remove suckers when they are 2-4’’ in length. In the video some of my suckers where closer to 6’’. Not ideal!
  •  It is starting to get hot, make sure your plants are getting watered. Even watering from flowering onward can do a lot to cut down on blossom end rot.

Here is a link to my You-tube channel where you can find videos on how to prune determinate tomatoes and how to prune indeterminate tomatoes to a single leader. 

- Amanda