Tomatoes – How many Trusses is the right number for Indeterminate Plants?

Amateur - August 2014

A truss of tomatoes is the bunch of fruit growing off the stem. Different cultivars have different sorts of trusses, some are long with up to 40 tomatoes on a truss, others are much shorter with only a few (sometimes as few as five or six) tomatoes.

We grow tomatoes to get as many ripe ones as possible. As the plant develops more trusses, it delays ripening the fruit that set earlier in the year. So its a balancing act between allowing the plant to develop a lot of trusses and encouraging the fruit to ripen.

How quickly the fruit ripen depends a lot upon how much sun they get (the more sun, the quicker they’ll ripen) and the way in which the plants are watered (to much watering will delay ripening). One thing you can guarantee is that each year will be different, we’ve had years where fruit were still ripening well into November (yes even here in middle England) and then we’ve had times when the plants are exhausted by mid October. So the decision as to how many trusses to allow to form is experience and guesswork. If (like us) you grow a mixture of cultivars and types (cherry, standard and beefsteak), you’ll already have experience and know that (in general) cherry tomatoes will ripen earliest followed by the standard and finally beefsteak. However, even within those general statements, different cultivars will ripen earlier or later.

Our experience suggests that potato leafed varieties start ripening earlier than regular leafed varieties and therefore can be allowed to set more trusses.

So, if you ask me, cherry tomatoes will provide more trusses of ripe fruit in a given year than standard and beefsteak. Potato leafed similarly can have more trusses than regular leafed. However, its probably that the beefsteak cultivars will provide a greater weight of fruit than either the standard and (certainly) the cherry varieties just because the individual fruits are larger.

In conclusion, I tend to restrict beefsteak tomatoes to about four trusses and cherry tomatoes to six or seven trusses, hope that most of them ripen and make green tomato chutney from those that don’t.