Identifying Suckers On A Tomatoes

Sucking on a ripe tomato plant is not only annoying but it could cause your whole tomato crop to rot if left unchecked. You might think that suckering off the fruit is enough to keep them away, however there are other factors which may need attention too. If you have ever wondered what kind of sucker you have on your tomatoes then read on…

1) The sucker’s color will vary depending upon the variety of tomato.

2) The sucker’s shape will vary depending upon the variety of tomato.

3) There are different types of suckers on a tomato plant.

Some suckers are easy to identify while others may require some extra research before identifying them.

What Is A Sucker?

A sucker is a small leafless branch or twig that grows out from one side of the stem and attaches itself to another part of the stem, usually at the base (Figure 1). These branches and twigs are called suckers because they attach themselves to the fruit. They serve no purpose except to provide support for the plant during ripening.

The word “stalk” is used here rather than “leaf”. Stalks are not always leaves, but they do grow from the same place as leaves. Also, stems attached to a tomato plant can be either white or greenish in color. The proper name for them is “suckers”, not “leaves”.

How Do Tomatoes Suck?

During the development of a tomato plant, suckers can be identified in several ways. They are often found at the base of a stem where they have grown out and attached themselves to the main stem. In other cases, they appear as short green or white stems with small leaves growing from the axils (which are the “joints” of the stem). They are indistinguishable from a leaf because they are very small and grow out of the stem. These suckers are considered to be leaves since they have the same functions as any other leaves on the plant. Most of them are found where the main stem branches out or where there is an injury, which provides an opening for water and food to collect.

Suckers are not exactly a disease, but can become a problem if their growth is not controlled. They are not the same as a fruit gall, which is a type of outgrowth that occurs on the stem and results in a tumor-like swelling. Suckers also differ from the water sprout, which is a long, rapid shoot that develops from the base of the plant. Water sprouts look like very thick vines that grow out of the ground and eventually develop into a flower cluster (also known as suckers).

Sources & references used in this article:

Pruning tomatoes by F Ferrandino – The Taunton press, New Haven, 1999 – freewayestates.org

Automated Pruning of Greenhouse Indeterminate Tomato Plants by A Joey, Z Jane, L Bo – Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference …, 2018 – dl.acm.org

Tomato plant culture: in the field, greenhouse, and home garden by JB Jones Jr – 2007 – books.google.com

Growing tomatoes in the home garden by G Gao, B Bergefurd, B Precheur – Ohio State University Extension Bulletin, 2010 – Citeseer

(6) Sucker Removal and Pruning Affect on Heirloom Tomato Yield and Fruit Size by WL Kline, SA Garrison, JF Sudal – HortScience, 2006 – journals.ashs.org

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