Tomatoes vary by type in their response to pruning. While pruning improves yields in some cultivars, others produce larger fruits but less overall yield, according to a study at Iowa State University. Horticulturalists agree that pruning the suckers, in addition to conserving garden space, strengthens the plant. The trimming of foliage permits more sun to reach the leaves, so that the plant fruits well and resists diseases related to dampness. You can also prune the flowers to produce larger fruits.
Examine the tomato's flower clusters, which typically contain one to 10 flowers. About six to eight flowers might form fruits under ideal pollination conditions, according to the University of Florida.
Thin the flower cluster to three to four fruits by pinching out the extra fruits if the tomato cultivar produces large fruits, and four or five fruits for intermediate-sized varieties.
Repeat the cluster pruning about once per week.
Snap off by hand the suckers that grow just above of the leaf axils of the plant when they are 1 to 3 inches long. Do this early in the day when the plant is dry so the wound can heal.
Remove pruned plant material by placing it in a bag and removing it from the growing area.
Repeat every three to four days.
About this Author
Rogue Parrish has written two travel books and edited at the "The Baltimore Sun," "The Washington Post" and the Alaska Newspapers company. She began writing professionally in 1975. Parrish holds a summa cum laude Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.