Scientific Experiments

Busting myths about tomato growing

New experiments started in Ely this week could see a new age of enlightenment for clueless Australian tomato growers in England. Rumour has long had it that chopping the tops off tomato plants increases yield, but tomato grower Jan Strugnell has never been convinced, “I’ve talked to those tomatoes, cared for them how could let someone take the scissors to them!”. But botanical expert Dr Rob Ingle from Cape Town university in south africa has no such emotional hang-ups, “Chopping the tops off should stimulate sideways growth, leading to greater yields” he said. Although Ingle is confident in his theory, he’s designed a “proper” experiment to bring some scientific rigour to the debate. This is a big experiment with a team of scientists from the UK and South Africa who are using the latest techniques. “We’re using replicates and we’ve even randomised our trial … it’s scientifically very rigorous” said UK scientist Ira Cooke. The experiment will continue for several months, and we’ll be bringing you updates on it’s progress.


Professor Ingle about to chop a tomato plant in the name of science


Tomato grower Jan Strugnell lamenting the loss of her tomato tops

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