6 Tomato Pruning Mistakes To Avoid In 2023.

Pruning is a skill any tomato farmer aspiring for profits needs to develop. You can visit an experienced farmer or agricultural extension officer for some classes and tips on tomato pruning mistakes that beginners make.

The common tomato pruning mistakes beginners make while pruning is over-pruning, using unsterilized gear, routinely pruning determinate tomatoes, late-season pruning, pruning when the leaves are wet and starting late, and pruning at midday.

Depending on who you get to take you through the process you would either pay or get the lessons for free. Lucky for me my friend has been growing tomatoes for a while. I had someone who could show me these tomato pruning mistakes for free. I was helping him at his farm of course.

Over pruning

Overpruned tomato
Overpruned tomatoes

Pruning is a delicate procedure that requires one to be cautious about the balance of leaves. The last thing you want to do is remove so many leaves that you are left with a stressed plant.

Cutting off too many leaves than is necessary is known as over-pruning. Stressed-out tomato plants tend to wilt because of shock after pruning.

The ideal practice is to remove not more than one-third of the leaves on the tomato vines so as not to stress the plant.

Because tomato plants make food in the leaves, a reduction of leaves affects food production. The long-term result is a reduction in production, fruit size, and quality.

If you live in a hot area, over-pruning may also lead to sunscalding. Sunscalding refers to the condition where tomato fruits get burned because of overexposure to direct sunlight. Tomato leaves not only produce food but also provide shade for the fruits from the direct sun.

Using unsterilized gear

pruning using unsterilized tools
Pruning using unsterilized clippers

I cannot stress how important using the right gear is when it comes to pruning. Firstly, your cutting equipment ought to be sharp. Pruning using blunt objects ends up stressing the plant.

A good tool for pruning is garden clippers (pruners). Bypass pruners are the best. They are proven to work well for pruning those suckers you forgot that are now 2 inches long. They are small to match tomato branches and fit comfortably in your hand when cutting.

Unsterilized and unclean gear will introduce bacteria and fungi onto your tomato plants. Any tool or gear should be disinfected in a sterilized bath or using sterilized wipes, soapy water, or diluted bleach to avoid these disease-causing pathogens. Sterilize the pruners after each plant to avoid carrying pathogens to the next plant.

Read More: Benefits Of Pruning Tomatoes

Routinely pruning determinate tomatoes

Pruning determinate tomatoes
Pruning determinate tomatoes

Determinate tomato plant pruning is reserved for emergencies and only when necessary. For example, when you notice some leaves showing infection, remove them from the plant to prevent the disease from spreading. Also, you should prune unhealthy leaves or those touching the ground if you cannot support them.

Among tomato pruning mistakes, pruning determinate tomatoes is, without a doubt, the most common. For determinate varieties, common pruning practices work against the tomato to produce a negative effect.

Although you won’t affect the quality of the harvest by pruning, determinate tomato plants get stressed as a result. Also, by removing the suckers, the harvest size will reduce because the suckers grow to produce flowers and, later, fruits. Not only that but reaching their maximum potential will be a pipe dream for these plants resulting in a reduced harvest.

One more exception in pruning determinate tomatoes comes near the end of the planting season. Some late or new stems, growing from the suckers, weaken the older main stems. It would be best if you pruned these with haste. The later stage stems are useless since they do not live long enough to bear fruit.

Late-season pruning

Getting into farming, most farmers do not know when to stop pruning once they start. The tomato pruning mistake you will find yourself making is continuing t prune when should stop to increase yield.

tomato pruning for ripening
Removing the tip from the main stem to achieve even ripening

Pruning till very late into the harvesting season when you need those leaves to give you ripe succulent fruits. As result, you end up harvesting some hard green fruits while you are preparing to get to the market or serve your favorite salad.

What is recommended towards the end of the season, you remove the tip of the main stem (a process technique called topping). Removing the tip signals to the plant that it is time to focus on ripening the fruit. That’s one of many benefits of pruning tomato plants.

Pruning when the leaves are wet

During wet seasons, or after irrigation, tomato leaves and stem surfaces get wet and become hotspots for disease. Spores land on the leaves and germinate and once a couple of plants get infected, it is easy for the rest to get infected.

The speed of infection spreading increases when pruning is done under the conditions. Touching plant to plant as you prune risks carrying the disease to other tomato plants.

Starting late and pruning at midday

Pruning should begin as early as the transplanting stage. You should not wait till you see some leaves drooping before you swing into action.

In some cases, it might be too late because the plant has already gotten infected. Infection can occur from direct contact with the soil or from splashing during rain or irrigation.

Most beginner farmers also leave their pruning for any time in the day. Pruning should be done in the morning and late in the evening. When you prune in the middle of the day, your tomato plants are likely to fall into stress.

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