Clipping or Twisting
We all have a preference as to what we like to do in regards to clipping our plants to the string or twisting them around the string.
A variety can sometimes determine if you clip or twist. A plant that grows away from the string is better to clip than twist because of the issue of breaking stems.
Plant load/habit: If you are a slightly less ‘generative’ grower you will potentially need to twist to create a generative pulse (hurt) on the plant, if you are the opposite and push the boundaries by either increased fruit load or speed, you may prefer clipping.
Labour: Some growers feel that twisting is slower and clipping is faster, but there is a cost to the clips. Calculating the extra cost of clips versus the potential saving in time needs to be made by doing both yourself. That permutation does depend on how well you can put clips on. I have medium sized hands so find it very easy to clip or twist. You must count how many heads you break. Have you considered clipping in the morning and twisting in the afternoon? What time of the day is breaking heads more likely? This is chopping and changing but it is an option. You might be surprised how much a broken head costs you!!
New Staff: Is it easier to teach staff to clip or twist? This is not always clear. If your staff do not put the clip in the correct place (for instance underneath a flowering truss) then you could end up losing production due to poor placement of the clips, the opposite applies if new staff are breaking heads because they do not twist properly.
I think the age of a crop and conditions need to be considered. When looking at crop registration sheets I have a good idea of when plants are becoming stressed. When I identify this as a grower I would immediately use clipping to elevate any unnecessary stress on the plant that twisting causes.
The placement of the clip is important, always place below the leaf and never directly above a truss, either put the clip under the middle leaf between trusses or underneath the truss. For cucumbers it is just under the leaf. One positive when clipping cucumbers, is you don’t have to do a tight twist so the stem does not slide down the string.
You might have seen this before but it shows how efficent clipping can be.
Twisting is a special technique. Often it is done in a manner I find damaging to the plant as well as being too slow. When twisting you should try and reduce as much movement of the head and manipulate the string more. You should take the weight of the plant then twist the string around the stem by flicking the leaves in an upwards motion with your free fingers. I don’t advise going around every leaf with the string on a tomato plant, especially if you have kinks in your stem. This just leads to either breaking the head or heavily damaging cells.
If you get behind twisting, having the option of a clip to help catch up is always a good idea. The more you twist the more the stress on the plant and higher risk of breaking heads. I like both systems and both have merit.
This tomato variety needs to be twisted carefully. There are a lot of 'bends' in this variety. I would consider clipping this to reduce potential breakages.
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Article wrtten by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower