Topping Tomato Plants

Question:


I have six tomato plants in containers on my deck. They are supported up to a height of 5 1/2 ft but have now grown beyond that. Is it wise to top these plants off now to help the existing fruit to grow and ripen or won't that help?

Also on the leaf curl, most of mine have this on lower leaves but have also noticed brown splotches on these recently. I did recently spray the lower leaves with a plant pesticide due to tiny spiders that were taking up residence.

Should I be concerned?

Tom

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Answer:

Tom,
Topping (not pruning or suckering) indeterminate tomato plants can be a long debate. Some gardeners say it's okay, while others suggest it's not advantageous.

In my opinion, it just doesn't doesn't do the plant any good. I would leave it alone and stake it the best you can. If you need a smaller plant, next year you could try a determinate variety. They only get about 3-5 feet tall and are bushier.

As far as the blotches seen on the lower leaves, you might be seeing signs of the spiders. You really need to keep a close watch on your plant now to make sure there's not an infestation of ANY type of insect. Leaf curl usually subsides, but if the leaves are curling and turning colors because an insect is present, you'll need to control that quickly.

Lastly, a word of caution!! If you have for example, spider mites, spraying an insect killer might not rid the plant of them. Spider mites are literally spiders and need to be killed by an actual spider killing spray or dust. I've heard of gardeners using regular insect spray to kill spider mites, and all that happened was the killing of the pest that eat the spider mites. In this instance, the spider mites predators were eliminated and the mite was able to flourish.

Hope this helps some,
Brad




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Spider Mites Control
by: Anonymous

Tom,
Off the top of my head, I can't remember whether or not Ortho Max is rated to kill spiders or not. If you check the bottle and it says it is for spiders, than I would re-apply it as often as stated on the bottle. (Make sure it's safe for edibles.) It doesn't matter that the leaves are curled, just spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves as best you can. As long as you're doing a regular water schedule and nothing else has caused the plant to have leaf curl, the curling should go away. Read more here on what could cause leaf curl.

The thing about spider mites, is that they reproduce at an ALARMING rate. So, you might kill off part of the colony one day, but if just a few survive, than they'll reproduce in the next few days beyond our imagination. So consistency is the key for getting a grip on killing them off.

I think your plan is a good one, just use something you know is rated for spiders or spider mites and is safe to use on tomato plants. You're going to eat the fruit off of those things, so better safe than sorry!!

Spider Mite Tips

Let us know how it turns out,
Brad

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Spider infested
by: Tom

O.K. so I rechecked the plants today and there's definately tiny red spiders present still. Should I reuse Ortho Max insect killer and how do I apply to curled leaves? Is there a better way to deal with this problem?

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