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High Tunnel Tomatoes - Early Pruning Pays off

Amy Ivy, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

May 2, 2018

greenhouse

May is an insane time around any NY vegetable farm and it's a challenge to prioritize the mountain of tasks each day. But a little time spent pruning and training your high tunnel tomato plants now can really pay off later. Not only will they yield better, your labor will be more efficient during harvest since workers won't be plowing through a dense tangle of leafy stems to get to the tomatoes.

Here's a quick review:

Remove lower leaves up to the first fruit cluster. Bend the leaf up, then down and it should snap off cleanly, making quick work of this simple but important task. Why? It increases airflow around the plant to discourage disease and makes the plant easier to work around.

Strong Y - whether you are training determinate or double leader indeterminate (see below) start both with the Strong Y. See the photo to locate the weaker suckers to remove and the co-dominate sucker to keep just below the first flower cluster. Allow only the main leader and co-dominate leader to develop, removing all the other suckers and leaves up to this ‘Y' junction on the plant. Why? The lower suckers are less productive. Removing them sends the plant's food energy to the remaining stems, shoots and fruit.

Determinate tomatoes - train them to the ‘stake and weave' aka ‘Florida weave' system. Set a post between every 2-3 plants and start the horizontal twining early so the plants can grow up through the support. Why? This level of support will keep the aisles open for efficient worker movement and will keep the fruit up off the ground for easy harvest.

Indeterminate tomatoes - For large slicing tomatoes some growers prefer single leaders, some prefer double. When in doubt, the double leader system works well in most situations.

In our cherry tomato trial we found the double leader system was the best option in terms of labor efficiency and yield, compared to a single or multi leader system.




Check out these helpful factsheets for more photos and details:

 

tomato2


 

 

 

 This article is from the May 3, 2018 edition of ENYCHP Vegetable News.  To read the full newsletter,CLICK HERE.



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Upcoming Events

2020 Fall Round Up: Fall Management for Your Livestock, Pasture, and Business

October 29, 2020

Join Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators Ashley Pierce, Aaron Gabriel, and Dayton Maxwell.  This dynamic and slightly humorous group will discuss strategies for overwintering pastures in combination with management guidelines for helping livestock enter the winter season with adequate body condition.  Farm visioning, mission development, and farm goal setting will conclude the one-hour program. 

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2021 Fruit & Vegetable Conference

February 16 - February 18, 2021

The Eastern NY Fruit & Vegetable Conference, normally held at The Desmond Hotel in Albany, will be going virtual 2021.  The ENYCH team will try to coordinate with other regional fruit and vegetable teams from across the state to offer a larger statewide virtual meeting.  These are tentative dates for now.  Additional information will be continued to be shared as it becomes available. 

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Announcements

U-Pick Farm Practices During Covid-19 Pandemic

U-Pick is a critical direct marketing approach for many of our farms and provides
customers with a unique connection to fresh produce grown close to home. In light
of what we understand about the spread of COVID-19, new management practices
will be needed to protect your farm team and your customers. This document
provides recommended practices and communication strategies for U-Pick
operations for the 2020 season.

https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_864.pdf

Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

2020 Biweekly Vegetable News Podcast - Episode 12 9/30/20

September 30, 2020
The September 30, 2020 edition of the Eastern New York Vegetable News covers the following topics:

Farmers Benefits from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 or CFAP (1:10)
Reflections on the Challenges and Successes Faced by Vegetable Growers in 2020 (4:40)

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