Tomato farming is when the seeds are cultivated for the purpose of tomato fruits production. Tomato is a warm season crop that does well under an average monthly temperature of 21 to 23 degrees Celsius. Tomato farmers can make millions if done properly. Cultivation can be done in gardens, pots, open field, containers, greenhouses etc. The average harvesting period after planting is 60 days to more than 80 days depending on the variety.
Tomato farming was mostly practiced in the northern part of Nigeria before. But now people can cultivate it in the southern parts too. This is possible because of irrigation system, greenhouse tomato farming and special agronomic practices.
TYPES OF TOMATOES
There are two types of tomatoes. You might have observed that on a tomato seed package, it’s labeled as either determinate or indeterminate.
1. Determinate tomatoes
Determinate simply means the growth and size is genetically determined to mature to a certain stage. These varieties of tomato produce ripe bountiful fruits at a time but for a relatively brief period. They do not require staking or caging. They’re good for containers and small backyard spaces. They can be suitable for paste tomatoes, canning and works well for making sauce.
2. Indeterminate tomatoes
Indeterminate means the growth of these tomatoes are indefinite once you don’t stop it. These are also known as “vining” types. They have more leaves so their production spreads more evenly throughout the season. Indeterminate tomatoes need staking and ideal for large gardens.
13 Essential Guides To Be Successful In Tomato Farming;
1. Procurement of seeds
One of your most important decisions to making millions start from choosing the proper seed to cultivate. The following are some of the varieties you can choose from Platinum F1, Maxim F1, Cobra 26 F1, Rio-Grande etc., and you’re guaranteed of huge production. Many tomato farmers still practice the crude ways of seeds selection that are outdated. This is one of the reasons the average yield per hectare has been below 3 tonnes in Nigeria.
2. Nursery preparation
The first step in the tomato planting process is to prepare the nursery so that the tomato seeds can germinate. You can either choose to raise tomato nursery on beds in the garden or plant indoors. When the seeds begin to germinate and grow leaves and roots, you can transplant them to areas suitable for tomato growth and production.
3. Sowing and Nursery raising
We recommend you start raising with seedling tray and cocopeat. But if you would prefer using soil, apply pesticides 5 to 6 days before sowing. Doing this will minimize the activities of disease causing organisms e.g nematode, fungus, bacteria and even insects. Weeing should be done if any. Water heavily a day before transplanting to harden the seedlings.
4. Site selection and land preparation
Choose a sunny place for your tomatoes because the warmer the soil, the faster the tomatoes grow. Tomatoes should receive at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. Tomato can grow in all soils from light to heavy ones. Tomatoes do best in soil with pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. If your soil is acidic, you will need to lime it. The soil should be well drained and not soaked. Loosen the soil to at least 20 cm depth. Finally, it’s time to transplant tomato seedlings.
Before you transplant, apply farmyard manure, fertilizers and leave for about 20 days. The reason manure is needed before transplanting is to help in improving the soil organic carbon content, micro oganisms, porosity, texture and structure, soil pH, bulk density etc. Water the soil and keep it moist enough to receive the seedlings.
Plants at above 24 days old are suitable for planting. When notice your tomatoes seedlings are about 8 to 10 cm tall, they’re ready for transplanting. Ensure you plant within the hour of removing from the nursery. It’s advisable you dip the roots of the seedling into pesticides to prevent insect attack and fungal diseases. Transplant in early in the mornings and evenings. Water the plants after transplanting to protect them from water stress.
6. Wetting your tomatoes
Water is crucial in tomato farming so, access to it is necessary. Your farmland must have a ready and steady source of water. So, it’s good you dig a well, drill borehole or store rain water by creating a mini reservoir to harvest water. Relying on rain fed tomato farming is long outdated. Smart farmers now farm tomatoes all year round with drip irrigation system. Many are not aware that tomato dislike having wet leaves. That is why drip irrigation is best way to irrigate tomato. Having water on tomato leaves aids foliar infections which can damage the plants. Drip irrigation ensures adequate water is supply to the roots of plants. This irrigation system saves up to 80% water as compared to any other type of irrigation. You can release fertilizer and chemicals easily to plants. Fertilizer injector (venturi) mixes fertilizers in water and pass it through the drip irrigation system.
7. Protecting your plants and weeding
It is very important you protect your plants from diseases such as Fusarium, bacteria wilt, Septoria leaf spot, bacteria blight, collar and root rots etc. Insects such as leaf hoppers, thrips, leaf miners etc. Weeding should be done when necessary and regularly.
8. Staking for tomato
There are two types of staking in tomato farming. Single plant and multiple plants staking. Single staking is when each plant is giving one stalk. It’s physically draining and expensive. Multiple staking is done for every 5 feets along the rows. The stems of the tomato plants are tied to the stake for proper support. To make your plant more productive and healthier, adjust or help the tomato plants/vines to grow on the staking materials then you prune properly. How to stake tomatoes is to tie them just above a cluster of flowers rather than just below.
9. Fertilizer application
Avoid fast-release fertilizers and high-nitrogen fertilizers. Too much nitrogen will result in lush foliage but few flowers and little or no fruit. Apply biostimulants, Boron and Calcium fertilizers to plants for quality tomato fruits. For proper root establishment, bone meal-based fertilizer are used because they’re rich in phosphorus. Note that fertilizer application should be done after your soil test result. You can apply Potassium Sulfate, Mono Ammonium Phosphate, Calcium Nitrate, Potassium Nitrate, Chelates, foliar fertiliser etc.
10. Harvesting tomatoes
When the tomato fruits are ready, you can twist it from the petioles of the bunch. You can use scissors to cut off leaving a little part of the stem attach to the tomato fruits. Some people advised we harvest them before they ripe fully. This is to prevent cracking, reduce spread of fungal diseases and premature rotting. Keep the harvested fruits in plastic crates or baskets under shades and sort.
11. Pest and disease control
You should be aware that tomatoes can be susceptible to insect pests. They need proper daily monitoring. Make it your responsibility to check under leaves, fruit and near soil. handpick insects, apply insecticidal soap where necessary (on the insects). Ensure you go for disease-resistant tomato varieties. Plant in well-draining soil. Water regularly but don’t underwater or over-water. Remove infected plants totally.
Due to the nature of tomatoes, marketing should be done much earlier before harvesting. Find out who or where you need to deliver the produce to. Visit restaurants, mall or the processing factory to sell in bulk if your produce is huge to avoid wastage. Research the average price in the market to set your own.
13. How to store tomatoes
It’s no brainer that storage of tomatoes ensures continuous supply for the season. It’s not advisable to refrigerate freshly harvested tomatoes. The texture and taste can be affected when you do so. The moisture content in tomatoes is high that’s why it can difficult to store for long especially at ambient temperatures. Store ripe tomatoes at temperatures of about 10-15°C and 85–95% relative humidity. These temperatures would prevent ripening and chilling injuries to the minimal levels. Though it’s almost difficult to attain these condition here in Nigeria and other tropical countries.
BENEFITS OF CONSUMING TOMATOES;
a. It has antioxidant property which improves the human sight.
b. The fibre content helps in food digestion.
c. It helps to prevent constipation due to the water content.
d. The lycopene in tomatoes prevent the body from heart attack and prevents prostate cancer.
e. Tomatoes is rich in caroten, vitamin C and antioxidant and these destroys free radical in our body.
Tomato is an important food condiment. They are commonly eaten in their fresh forms or processed into dried form, puree, paste, sauce, canned and whole-peeled forms. It can be grown all over the country. Tomatoes provide desired high nutrients required for a balanced diet with relatively low calories. These include among others vitamin C and essential minerals (such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, and zinc. Due to the nature of tomatoes, marketing should be done much earlier before harvesting.
FAQ ON TOMATO FARMING
a. Where can I get quality tomato seeds?
You can get quality and affordable seeds from farmsquare.ng.
b. How long does Tomatoes take to mature?
It takes average of 60 to 70 days to reach harvest for early-season tomatoes and upto 80 or more days for mid and late-season tomatoes.
c. What is best tomato fertilizer?
It’s good you apply fertilizers with balanced ratio of NPK eg 15:15:15 or 10-10-10 or fertilizers with more phosphorus and followed by Nitrogen, such as 2-3-1.
d. How many tomatoes will one plant produce?
Depending on the size of tomato, it can produce about 30 to 90 fruits from a single plant.
e. Do tomatoes die after fruiting?
The indeterminate type of tomatoes do not die after fruiting. But the determinate ones really don’t grow anymore after reaching a certain height and fruiting.