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question on whether to top off tomatoes Toplef10question on whether to top off tomatoes 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

question on whether to top off tomatoes I22gcj10question on whether to top off tomatoes 14dhcg10

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Post  amcon2 7/5/2023, 1:22 am

Hello all! Need some help! We have indeterminate tomatoes, that we started indoors from seed, really taking off in our garden. So much so, that they are already AT LEAST 6 feet tall (and it is only the first week of July with a lot more summer to go). They have many tomatoes and flowers on the vine. We did not use a trellis this year. They are staked and growing inside of cages with suckers being removed.

Now they are getting very difficult to manage because of their height. Should we top them off now or is it too early in the season? If we top them off, will they continue to make more new flowers and fruit from the lower branches or does the production of new flowers stop if they are topped off. We don't want to sacrifice losing more fruit production so early in the season but don't want the plants to snap and break if they get too top heavy and much taller.

I've only encountered this situation much later in the growing season in the past and I'm not sure how to handle and manage it this time.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Post  sanderson 7/5/2023, 4:48 am

Sometimes tall tomatoes will safely fall over the top of a trellis and continue growing just fine. The stems are pretty hardy even if they get bent.

To me pruning tells the plant what you want. Top them and the suckers will grow and make it bushier. Remove suckers and the main stem(s) continue growing tall. It you want to top them, cut above a small lower sucker that you want to take over growing up. Every sucker produces flowers, fruit and their own suckers. Maybe experiment with a couple of plants?

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Post  amcon2 7/5/2023, 9:14 am

Sanderson, thanks for your response. I think I will try some experimenting with a few of the plants, as you suggested. My concern was that if I topped off that ALL new  flower production would stop, but if I stop pruning suckers then that won't happen. Is that correct? They will just get bushier?

I dont have a trellis in place for them to fall on top of and because of their location (they are lined up and butted up against the outside of a garage wall and have grown up to the roof). I might try playing around with jimmying up some kind of support for some of them to flop onto, if I can figure out how. The others, I will top off and see how that goes. 

Thanks for your help.
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Post  sanderson 7/5/2023, 2:53 pm

If there is an eave overhead, you can support tomatoes with string/twine/stretchy garden tape from the rafter tails if you can figure out a way not to damage them.  Or erect a free-standing tall EMC trellis.  Mine have stayed straight for ~4 seasons do to a trick I learned from Yolos.  See photo below.

I do a compromise.  I let 1, 2 or 3 daughters/suckers also grow to provide some self-shade in my hot dry climate.  This year I'm only letting 1 or 2 daughters grow and not even using trellises to get them started for a change.  They are all overhead supported off free standing EMC trellises.  The cheap stretchy tape I bought this year is too stretchy but it's still working out. I carefully wrap the vines around their tape as each grows taller.  The area is 1-dimensional, so I have to be able to reach everything from one side.  In this photo they look bushy but that's in part to the drooping of the tape.  Very Happy The weather was perfect this spring for lots of tomatoes to set. Now they are starting to ripen. bounce

question on whether to top off tomatoes Sun_sh23

A 2"x4" block is used as a "foot" to stabilize the EMC.  A hole is drilled large enough for the rebar to go through but small enough so the EMC can't slip through.

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