9 Benefits of Pruning Determinate Tomatoes

Determinate tomatoes are a type of tomato plant that grows to a predetermined size. They are typically bushy and compact, and they produce fruit all at once. Pruning determinate tomatoes is recommended but should not be as heavy as pruning indeterminate tomato plants.

If you are not comfortable pruning your determinate tomato plants, you can leave them unpruned. They will still produce fruit, but they may not be as productive as a pruned plant. Pruning too much can actually reduce the amount of fruit that your plants will produce.

Pruning determinate tomatoes – Benefits

When tomato plants are left on their own without pruning, they can grow shrubby or into a jungle. The weight of the foliage and fruits can also cause the plant to topple. The plant can be attacked by pests and diseases when the leaves and fruits come into contact with the soil.

Pruning helps to keep the plant healthy and is beneficial in the following ways:

1. Earlier tomato fruits ripening

Tomato suckers are new plants that grow between the main stem and each leaf. Requires a lot of energy from the main plant to grow. When removed, the plant directs the energy toward fruit production and earlier ripening.

2. Ease of harvesting

Pruning determinate tomato plants makes it easy to harvest the fruits. Ripe tomatoes are visible and easy to access without interference from the neighboring plants. Imagine how it would be difficult to walk through a jungle of tomatoes looking for ripe tomatoes.

3. Larger fruits

Reducing foliage content means that the plant will be able to put more energy towards fruit production. When suckers are allowed to grow, they may produce more clusters of fruits but are small in size. Fruits require a lot of energy to develop. Too many of them will compete for nutrients.

4. Reduced pest attack

Most gardeners agree that pruning tomatoes can help to reduce pest attacks. Shrubby tomato plants provide ample hiding places for pests. Old leaves at the base of the plant can also act as a transportation medium for pests like hornworms. They crawl on the plant and attack leaves, stems, and fruits.

5. Minimize diseases

Tomato plants are prone to different fungal infections like early blight and septoria leaf spots. They thrive well in areas that are warm, wet and have poor air circulation. Unpruned tomato plants provide ideal conditions for the multiplication of fungal infections.

6. Increased sunlight on leaves

Plants use sunlight to produce energy through the process of photosynthesis. Pruning allows all the leaves to be exposed to the sun. It is difficult for the lower leaves to receive sunlight when the plant is shrubby. And as you know tomatoes require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.

7. Improved fruit quality

Adequate sunlight encourages tomato fruits to develop sugars and ripens faster. If you are staying in a cooler climate area with short seasons, pruning can help to fasten fruit ripening. However, do not over-prune plants if you live in hotter climate areas. Over-exposing fruits to the sun can cause sunscalds in tomato fruits.

8. Increased plant vigor

Pruning improves the general health of the plant. The plants receive increased airflow that prevents bacterial and fungal pathogen infections. The soil is less liable to splash on a pruned plant. There are also fewer chances of leaf spots on pruned plants since the leaves stay drier most of the time.

9. Create space for planting more tomatoes

If you are having limited gardening space, pruning can help to enhance planting more crops in the same amount of space. With pruning and well management, you can decrease the plant spacing from the recommended 24 inches between the rows to 18 inches and still receive high yields.

Tips for pruning determinate tomatoes

Here are some tips for pruning determinate tomatoes:

  • Prune when the plant is young and healthy.
  • Use sharp, clean pruning shears.
  • Make cuts that are just above a leaf node.
  • Do not remove the suckers as this can affect the production of the plant.
  • Prune regularly throughout the growing season.
  • Focus on removing only the yellow leaves at the base of the plant.

Final Thought

Pruning determinate tomatoes can help increase fruit production but if you make the mistake of removing too much foliage, then you’ll end up with reduced yields. Removing some suckers and dead leaves promotes air circulation around the plant, increases sunlight exposure, and helps in reducing cases of pests and diseases.

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