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Pinching sucker growth in the leaf axils means better production.
June 13: Top Tips for Tomato Success
Tomatoes appreciate an even supply of moisture rather than a heavy soaking and then a drought. Make sure plants get one inch of water a week, more if the weather is especially hot or windy. Straw mulch is helpful in these beds to keep soil from drying out.
Want a bigger crop? You may wish to pinch out the sucker growth originating in the axils of the lateral branches (see photo above). This relieves the plant of having to expend energy on branch growth and focuses its energy into fruit production.
An indeterminate (vining) tomato plant is a solar-powered sugar factory. It can double in size every 12 to 15 days. Unpruned, the plant may have 10 unruly stems, each 3 to 5 feet long. Pruning helps plant structure and health. Side shoots, called suckers, grow in the crotches (axils) between the main stem and leaves. Allow 2 or 3 suckers to develop into flowering stems and pinch out the rest. The result will be four manageable stems.
Looking ahead: professional growers recommend pinching the tops of the two leaders about one month before the fall frost. This causes the plant to stop growing and again, forces it to push the fruit.