Training & Pruning Tomatoes for Cattle Panels

We are growing 2 cherry/grape tomatoes on our cattle panel trellis that is arching over the path between beds this summer. Because of the location and the fact that both tomatoes are going to be “sharing” the trellis with another vegetable (one pole bean and one cucumber), they are going to need to be managed a little more intensively than if they had the whole trellis to themselves.

Here is what one of them looked like before we did any pruning or training yesterday. We had done a little bit of pruning last week, so some of the worst suckers on the bottom of the plant were already gone. You can see that this plant is already putting out multiple stalks. That’s okay to a certain extent. I was planning to prune these plants to be double leader plants, so this one is well on its way. (A double leader means 2 main stems rather than just one.)

I’m planning to prune off all the side shoots (suckers) up to about 5 feet, and then we’ll let the plant do what it wants to for the rest of the way up the trellis. This should keep the majority of the plant from getting too busy and flopping into the walk, other plants, or just generally being where it doesn’t belong.

Here’s the “after.” Can you see the difference? The main (big) difference is the large sucker that we took off. It the top picture it looks like there are 3 growing shoots, now there are only 2. We also put on some zip ties to help direct the shoots up the trellis rather than everywhere else. The last thing we did was pinch out all the small suckers that were getting started. You can prune off big suckers, but it is much better for the plant to get them when they are small.

Because we are doing this heavy pruning, we probably won’t get as many early tomatoes from these plants. Oh well, we also won’t have them attacking us as we walk by either!



About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on June 5, 2013, in Around the Garden and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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