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How to Prune Tomatoes for a Big Harvest

Grow tomatoes in your garden, and you’ll have the best—and most culinarily exciting—summer ever. Pruning tomatoes is the best way to keep your plants healthy, and maximize yield.

Pruning is simple: either use your fingers to pinch off where a stem meets the stalk, or use a pair of gardening scissors, though you most likely won’t need that. What you’re pruning are the “suckers,” or the small shoots that grows at the joint where the branch of the tomato plant meets the stem.

First, check out this short video that shows what tomato suckers are and how to prune them so more of the plant’s energy can be directed toward growing the fruit you love to eat! Pruning tomato suckers also improves airflow through the plant, making it less susceptible to disease.

Before you start clipping, you’ll need to know what type of tomato you are growing. There are two types, indeterminate and determinate.
Indeterminate tomatoes are those that have a leaf bud as the apical meristem.
Determinate tomatoes are shorter than indeterminate because their apical meristem is a flowering bud.

To properly prune a determinate tomato, pinch all suckers from the ground level to the first flower cluster, as shown in the below picture.

To properly prune an indeterminate tomato, prune all suckers from the ground level up to the second flower cluster (picture below).

Follow the same instructions as for determinate tomatoes.

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