"Topping" a tomato plant
(Plainfield, Il USA)
Remove these suckers (ed.)
Is it true that when a tomato is "topped", it produces more abundantly? If so, what is the most advantageous height? Also, in your site you state that by stopping a cucumber vine after 7 or so leaf groupings, that it will produce more abundantly. Is that true in most/all 'cukes'?
I've grown both for years, but I've never attempted to test this theory..... Hmmmmm!
Thanks in advance for the help!
Answer from Stella/Simon:
This is absolutely an effective method! We have done this for years, even with our early soil-planted vegetable gardens. It is especially useful for hydroponics because it keeps the plant more compact and bushy (less leggy and sprawling). It helps with tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons, those vining crops.
When the plant has reached a good height (like up under the lights in a hydro setup) pinch off the growing tips of the vines. With tomatoes, you should have been pruning the plant to only one or two main vines and eliminating all the "suckers" as the plant grows. Then pinch off the growing tip once it gets to the length you want.
Topping or pinching off in this way signals the plant to divert it's resources and growing energy into making fruit instead of stem/leaves. This process is explained on this page:
PS: This method should not be necessary for hybrids that are bred to stay small anyway, like patio/bush tomatoes, or bush cukes like "Spacemaster".
Good luck, Dan,
Let us know how your test goes!
Hope this helps!
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