Most homegrown tomato plants produce between 3 and 9 pounds of fruit in one season. Two or three plants are usually sufficient for a family of four for fresh eating. Plant two varieties, such as a cherry tomato for salads and a paste or slicing tomato.
The yield of tomato plants depends in part on the variety. Beefmaster, a slicing tomato, produced almost 10 pounds of fruit in a Washington State University study, while Yellow Perfection, another slicing tomato, produced just under 4 pounds. Indeterminate tomatoes produce more fruits than determinate types generally, because they continue fruiting until the first frost. Determinate types produce one crop and then dwindle.
Hot weather and drought adversely affect tomato production. Tomatoes drop their blossoms, failing to produce fruit when temperatures remain above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Purdue University's website. Drought, disease and poor soil also limit tomato growth. Plant disease-resistant varieties and provide good growing conditions for the most abundant yields.
Indeterminate varieties grow on sprawling, robust vines. Gardeners may choose to prune and stake these plants or let them grow on the ground. Pruned and staked varieties produce fewer, but larger tomatoes, and are more prone to sun scald. Those grown on the ground produce smaller tomatoes in larger quantities. They have more problems with soil diseases. In general, pruning and staking is the preferred practice for producing high-quality tomatoes.