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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cutting Tomato Plants Back Now

Q. We actually took off the last tomato early this week.  Not fully ripe, but took it inside so no bugs or others would get to it. Somewhere I remember reading that you can cut them back to 12-16" and they will grow again. 

A. You can cut them back to some side shoots now but it will open the plants to sunburn if you are not careful and the plant may die. It is possible to cut them back now while it is still hot but make your cuts so that you reduce their height and still leave plenty of side shoots.

Sunburn on tomato on fruit and leaves.

            Another possibility is for next year. Try planting some from seed in early to mid-July. Put the seed between the plants and cover the soil and seed with straw to keep it moist and hand water daily. Make sure you mix compost into the soil in the spots where you planted the seed. Soak the seed in water four to six hours before you plant it. This will speed up germination. In about late mid to late August, cut or remove your old plants and let the young ones come in for production in September through November.

            Stake or trellis the plants and thin side shoots so you have better air circulation. Reduce any winds you have on the area with wind screens or windbreaks. Make sure you have at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun, fertilize lightly every 30 days AFTER you see flowering.

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