Pruning cherry tomatoes

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Northern NY Agricultural Development Program did a trial on pruning efficiencies in cherry tomato production.  There were three treatments:
  1.     Single Leader (one leader, all suckers removed), spaced at 12 inches
  2.     Double Leader Treatment, spaced at 18”
  3.     Four Leader Treatment, spaced at 18”
The results were surprising:  Single Leader actually resulted in the least labour over the season, in part because of efficiencies gained during harvest.  The Single Leader allowed for more cherry tomato grams harvested per minute.  The Four Leader treatment actually resulted in the most labour, as picking was slowed by the tangled growth, almost twice the amount of labour (training and harvesting) went into Four Leader production compared to Single Leader production.

Yields were comparable between the Four Leader and the Double Leader treatment, with the Single Leader treatment slightly lower.  However, Single Leader production resulted in higher yields earlier in the season when prices are the highest. 

If labour efficiency is paramount on your farm, or if you want to capitalized on early season prices, you might want to consider Single Leader pruning in your cherry tomatoes.  If you are looking for a balance between yield and labour, consider choosing Double Leader option.  You can read the full 2015-2016 Northern NY Agricultural Development Program Report here, and also take a closer look at the data here