Today I’d like to share a few simple tomato pruning techniques for earlier harvests, higher yields, and healthier plants. It’s important to note up front that these techniques apply only to indeterminate tomatoes, which are vining tomatoes that keep growing and putting out new suckers, buds, and fruit until killed by frost. Determinate tomatoes, on the other hand, are bush tomatoes that usually don’t grow taller than 4 feet. Their fruit ripen at roughly the same time and then the plant dies. Pruning determinate plants will significantly reduce their yield and is not a good idea. Even indeterminate plants don’t have to be pruned, but we choose to for the reasons I’ll share in this video. We grow our indeterminate tomatoes on trellises and space them only a foot apart. Each sucker of an indeterminate tomato essentially produces a whole new plant, so pruning them makes this close spacing possible, and allows for adequate light penetration and air flow around plants. If we didn’t prune, the tomatoes would have to be 2 to 3 feet apart. Though pruning can reduce the yield per plant, it allows us to grow more plants in a given area, thereby increasing our overall yield. Removing the extra growth also focuses more of the plant’s energy on producing blossoms and ripening existing fruit, which can lead to an earlier harvest and larger fruit. We look to prune suckers that are developing below new blossoms. Here you can see a blossom growing off the main stem at the top of the frame, and just below there’s a branch going off to the left and a sucker growing diagonally between the stem and the branch. This is what we want to prune. It’s best to prune suckers when they’re relatively small. Removing a more mature sucker would leave a larger wound, which could be more susceptible to infection. When identifying suckers, you can think of the sucker as an extra arm growing out of an armpit. The intersection between the main stem and the branch form the armpit, and the sucker is the extra arm growing out of it. To combat early blight and keep our plants healthy, we also prune all the leaves that hang within a foot from the ground. Early bight is a fungus that colonizes on leaves and produces brown spots. It can eventually kill leaves and significantly reduce fruit production. Lower leaves are typically infected first due to their proximity to the ground. During rain storms, early blight spores in the soil can splash up and come into contact with leaves. Pruning the bottom leaves not only eliminates infected leaves and those likely to be infected, it also increases light penetration and air flow, creating a less hospitable environment for the fungus. We typically do this pruning after the plants are at least 4 or 5 feet tall or we see infected leaves. Finally, some of the tomatoes are already taller than the 8 foot tall trellises. If I don’t top off the plants, they could very well be twelve feet tall by the first frost. Of course, they wouldn’t just keep growing straight up. Instead, they’d slouch over the top of the trellis and hang down over the rest of the plant, which would create a tangled mess and increase the plants vulnerability to diseases. So, I’ll prune the plants just above the top of the trellis. This is a height I can comfortably reach and manage. Topping them off will also help the plants focus their energy on producing fruit, which is our ultimate goal after all. So, there you have it our simple pruning strategy for earlier harvests, higher yields, and healthier tomatoes. Well, that’s all for now. Thank you very much for watching, and until next time remember you can change the world one yard at a time.