[Market-farming] Topping Tomato Plants

Petersons family petersns at whidbey.com
Fri Jul 29 13:49:29 EDT 2005

I was afraid to do it too, but recalled talking to an older gardener 
who had worked in greenhouses and remembered "stopping" the tomatoes, 
by topping them.  Our climate can also be humid and air circulation is 
frequently a problem in our hoop house.  I topped about 200 tomato 
plants last week.  As I went through picking today I checked them - no 
rampant new growth anywhere - maybe 10 plants had put up another top 
shoot.  They don't appear shocked either. My goal is to have them ripen 
the set fruit as quickly as possible instead of spending energy on 
creating new.  And the alternate goal - more air circulation has 
happened.  Mine were topped at about 6.5 ft.  I can't reach a lot 
higher than that to pick anyway.
Whidbey Island , Washington
On Jul 28, 2005, at 6:22 AM, Allan Balliett wrote:

> Can someone remind me what the philosophy of topping tomato plants is?
> I've got a lot of heirloom indeterminants growing Florida weaved on 
> 4ft stakes.
> A lot of them are by now 6ft plants.
> In our humidity, the hangover becomes a source of disease and a
> hideout for insects populations.
> I seem to recall, also, that the tomatoes above 4ft will not ripen
> before Sept 15, so I can't get excited about losing them by topping.
> BUT, I'm afraid of promoting rank growth by topping and I'm afraid of
> promoting shock. And, frankly, as important as tomatoes are to us
> each year, I'm just plain afraid!
> I'd appreciate some advice.
> Thanks -Allan
> Shepherdstown, WV
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