Why you should pinch out tomatoes and how to do it right

Yulia PoteriankoNews
Pinched out tomato bushes produce larger fruits. Source: Created with the help of AI

To get a good tomato harvest, you need to properly care for the tomato bush, including removing the side shoots of the plant in time. This procedure is called pinching.

Side shoots grow between the main trunk of the plant and a side branch. They take up a significant part of the tomato's resources, so you need to get rid of them. OBOZ.UA will tell you how to do it right.

Why it is done

At first glance, pinching seems to be a controversial procedure as more branches can bring a bigger harvest. And this is true. However, if side shoots are not removed, tomatoes grow smaller as each fruit gets less nutrition.

The need for pinching also depends on the tomato variety. If the bush has no growth restrictions by nature and grows new branches throughout the season, pinching is justified. For varieties that have growth restrictions, this treatment is not necessary. The plant will reach its optimum growth and stop. Thus, you can also leave the side shoots untouched. However, this procedure also allows you to properly form the plant.


Depending on how the bush will be formed, pinching is carried out in different ways. One, two or three stems are left on the plant.

Single-stem formation is usually used for growing tomatoes in greenhouses. In this case, all side shoots are broken off from the bush, and all "doubles" - bifurcations of the stem - are cut off. Instead, leave all the flower pedicels, including the lowest one.

Formations with two and three stems are more typical for open ground. In this case, one or two well-developed strong side shoots are left. The rest are removed.

The right method

For the procedure to be successful, it is recommended to carry out pinching as early as possible. This way, the tomato bush will tolerate it the easiest. Small leaves 5-8 cm in size can be torn off by hand. If the plant has developed shoots more than 0.8 cm thick, it is better to remove them with secateurs. This will cause less damage to the tomato bush. Morning hours are best for pinching. Subsequently, the treated bush is checked for the appearance of new shoots every two weeks.

For pinching to be effective, it is not recommended to cut off the entire side shoot at once. A new one will soon start growing in its place anyway. Therefore, it will be more effective to leave stumps up to 4 mm in size: they will keep the tomato bush from growing at least for a while. The cuts must be treated with disinfectants to prevent pathogens from affecting the plant.

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