Tomato Pruning and Staking March 2013

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How to prune and stake tomatoes.

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TOMATO PRUNING

Indeterminates:

Indeterminates These are usually pruned to single stem where all suckers are removed Can also use a cage to hold the vine growth and in this case only light pruning at ground level is needed.

Pruning - determinates:

Pruning - determinates Remove of suckers, from the ground up Prune as early as possible to avoid injury (2 - 4 in long) At times may need to go through second time never remove the sucker immediately below first bloom cluster

Pruning – cont.:

Pruning – cont. Sanitation is very important Prune only dry plants Can move diseases Bacterial spot, speck, canker, wilt Certain viruses such as Tobacco mosaic

Excessive Pruning Can:

Excessive Pruning Can Reduce yields Increase BER Increase sunscald Increase catfacing

Weak Determinates (plums):

Weak Determinates (plums) None Removal of ground suckers plus 2 more maximum Never prune to the fork

Effect of pruning on weak determinate:

Effect of pruning on weak determinate Pruning method Yield (25 lb boxes/a) Fruit wt (oz) Marketable (%) None 2375 7.2 70.1 Light 2046 7.9 67.4 Heavy 1430 8.5 57.8

Strong determinate:

Strong determinate Light pruning Removal of ground suckers plus 2-3 more Never prune to the fork

Effect of pruning on strong determinate:

Effect of pruning on strong determinate Pruning method Yield (25 lb cartons/a) Fruit wt. (oz) Marketable (%) None 2113 6.9 64.0 Light 2336 7.4 70.2 Heavy 1634 8.0 66.9

Grape Tomatoes:

Grape Tomatoes No pruning is done

Staking - Pros:

Staking - Pros Increase yield Improve fruit quality (fruit do not touch ground) Improves spray coverage Allows better air circulation Easier to harvest Less damage done to plants

Staking - Cons:

Staking - Cons Expensive – cost of stakes and tying Field cleanup – removal of strings and stakes Possible disease movement

Staked vs. nonstaked tomatoes in NJ:

Staked vs. nonstaked tomatoes in NJ Trt. Disease rating Total yield (T/a) Mkt. yield (T/a) Post-harvest loss % Loss due to anthracnose % Ground 6.5 b 46.3 1584 a 34.1 b 25.6 b Staked 4.6 a 46.3 1936 b 10.1 a 5.4 a

Stakes:

Stakes Short-stake 48-54 inches long Wood (pt) 1 in square rebar Grapes 84-90 inches long Wood (pt) 1.25 in square

Staking:

Staking Do as soon after transplanting as possible (can help some as windbreak) Small growers can hand drive Large growers use pneumatic hammers Use stake every plant, some growers use every other plants but under windy conditions may not support plants Leave gap at least every 100 ft

Tying:

Tying First string is done when plants are 12-15 in. tall, put 8-10 in. up stake Additional strings added as needed 6-8 in. above last, usually 4 strings Do before plants fall over, but after pruning Make sure plants are dry

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