What is a Tomato Sucker? A “sucker” is an extra shoot or leaves growing between the main stalk of the tomato plant and an established branch, often growing at a 45° angle from the plant.
What is the difference between Determinate and Indeterminate tomatoes? Determinate varieties (also known as “bush tomatoes”) have a short harvest time, usually 1-3 weeks, when all of their fruit ripens around the same time. Indeterminate varieties, or “vine tomatoes” grow and produce their fruit for an extended season, often until the fall frost. Most small fruit tomatoes, like cherry and grape sizes, are indeterminate varieties.
What types of Tomatoes need to be suckered? Only Indeterminate tomato varieties will need the suckers removed, to help with air flow and sunlight reaching the inner branches of the plant. Determinate varieties have a shorter harvest season and do not require their suckers being removed.
Why should I sucker my Tomato? You only need to remove suckers from Indeterminate tomato varieties, as they can draw energy away from fruit production or create such a dense leaf canopy that air cannot flow through the branches, which can lead to disease. Determinate tomatoes need those extra suckers to provide enough energy (i.e. photosynthesis) to the fruit.
How do I sucker my Tomato? Simply pinch off the extra shoot using your thumb and forefinger (or clean scissors). Check your plants regularly and remove suckers as they appear until around late July.