Tomatoes were first cultivated in the Andean countries of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, all in South America. Tomatoes were introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus and other travelers in the late 1400s. Until the early 1800s, tomatoes were only grown as ornamentals in Europe and the United States due to widespread belief that the fruit was harmful. Nightshade, nicotianas (including tobacco and petunias), Jimson weed [belladonna], and mandrake are all members of the botanical family Solanaceae, which also includes food plants like tomatoes (potatoes, capsicums, and eggplants). Alkaloids are found in all members of this family’s plants, either in their leaves or their fruits. It wasn’t until until 1860 that commercial tomato production began, after which point tomatoes were widely embraced by the public. Tomato breeders have been creating new varieties since 1890, and many of these have found a home in various parts of the world.
Tomatoes might be fresh or beefsteak, grape, saladette, cherry, plum or paste, and many more. Expand your marketing options and possibilities by producing a combination of these types. Home gardeners may find a place in attractive hanging basket tomatoes, which were introduced recently. Customers and market demand should be taken into consideration before purchasing seeds or plants. In order to cater to your customer’s preferences, you should provide a wide range of tomato varieties.
Indeterminate and determinate tomato plants have two distinct growth patterns. All of the fruiting blooms of determinate tomato plants will be produced at the same time. When it comes to tomatoes, indeterminate varieties can continue to grow and produce fruiting blooms throughout the growing season.
Many local fresh markets now sell heirloom tomato types. They’ve been passed down from generation to generation. It is difficult to ship, the fruit is not hard enough, the ripening is irregular, the plants are susceptible to disease, and they have an uncertain growth pattern that make them unsuitable for large-scale production.
There are two primary uses for tomatoes in the United States: processing and fresh sale. Approximately 600-700 million dollars worth of processed tomatoes and 130,000 acres worth of fresh market tomatoes were produced in the United States in previous years (USDA Statistical Services bases value of production on total acres harvested times average price). About $15 to $25 million worth of fresh-market tomatoes are grown on 4,000 acres of Pennsylvania farmland each year.
Tomato processing has long been an essential element of the Pennsylvania tomato business, but its importance has waned over the last decade.
Fresh-market tomatoes are grown in Pennsylvania between the first week of June (in a high tunnel) and the last week of October, depending on the region. Tomatoes from the market are frequently offered in bulk, loose. The following is a list of suggested tomato varieties for Pennsylvania. Order of maturation is used for all cultivars on this page (early to late.)
Alternaria stem is represented by the letter A. resistive to canker
Early late blight is referred to as EBR.
The abbreviation FR stands for fusarium resistant.
This product is resistant to the root Rot Nematode
Nematode-resistant root knots
Resistance to TMV (tobacco mosaic virus):
TSWV = virus resistant to tomato spotted wilt
the resistance against verticillium wilt
Tomato growers have six primary options for marketing their produce:
- wholesalers and distributors.
- Small business owners in your neighborhood (grocery stores)
- There are many roadside stands
- operations in which customers can choose their own options
- businesses that process
Fresh-market tomatoes are the subject of this publication rather than processing tomatoes.
You or a shipper can market your produce via wholesale marketing. Tomatoes are often sold and transported by shippers at a set price. Wholesale marketing is the most volatile in terms of price. A daily pooled cost and price is used by marketing cooperatives to spread out price volatility across all member producers. If you want to sell your tomatoes to local stores, you’ll need to get in touch with the store’s produce managers and supply them with high-quality tomatoes when they need them.
With roadside stands and pick-your-own businesses, you may be able to get greater prices for your tomatoes, but you’ll also have to pay for additional advertising, developing and maintaining a facility as well as providing customer service. To reap the benefits of a pick-your-own operation while minimizing harvest expenses, you must be willing to tolerate some waste and embrace the hazards of having the public visit your farm. Fruit and Vegetable Marketing for Small-Scale and Part-Time Growers, Developing a Roadside Farm Market, and Cooperatives provide additional information on marketing.
Soils with high air and water infiltration rates are ideal for growing tomatoes. Before you plant tomatoes, you should test the soil. According to soil test recommendations, lime should be added to raise the pH of the soil from 5.8 to 6.6. An extension office in your area should be able to provide you with soil test kits.
In order for tomatoes to thrive, they need a steady flow of water. At any stage of growth (particularly after fruit set), excessive water consumption can increase the risk of cracking (radial and concentric) in the fruit, resulting in worse fruit quality and production. Watering Crops: Irrigation and Drip Techniques can provide you with a wealth of knowledge on the topic.
Cool night temperatures (below 55°F) stress tomatoes. Crop development, pollination, and maturation will be slowed if the temperature falls below 60°F or rises beyond 90°F during the growing season.
Planting and Fertilization
42 to 56 days ahead to planting in the field, commercially grown tomatoes are often begun in the greenhouse. Temperatures 3 inches below the soil surface must be at least 60°F before tomatoes can be transplanted. The best place to grow tomatoes is on raised beds with red or black plastic mulch as a covering. For optimal plant growth and productivity, drip irrigation is the best option.
2,600 to 5,800 plants per acre in single rows with 18 to 30 inches between plants in the row are often planted on 5- to 6-feet centers in rows of six plants wide. Each plastic-covered bed can also accommodate two rows of small tomato cultivars (10,000 plants per acre). A soil test should be conducted every year to determine how much fertilizer is needed. There are several nonbiological and nutritional factors that contribute to poor fruit development and quality in tomatoes, and soil testing is essential to ensure a successful harvest. Based on the soil test results, apply fertilizer early in the season to get things off to the best possible start. At the time of soil preparation, apply half of the fertilizer.
A tissue test is the best approach to figure out how much fertilizer you’ll need during the growing season. At the beginning of flowering and 2 to 3 weeks later, when green fruit are on the vine, plant tissue testing should be undertaken. Both your local extension office and private laboratories sell tissue sample kits.
Additional calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as continued administrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, are common dietary requirements at these important stages. The ideal way to apply nutrients is to use a fertilizer injection system that is linked to the drip irrigation. To meet these requirements, tomatoes will need between 80 and 90 pounds of N, 100 pounds of P2O5, and between 80 and 200 pounds of K2O per growing season, according to Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers.
The plants must be supported above the ground in order to produce high-quality tomatoes. The Florida String Weave System is widely used by many producers. Using wooden stakes that are 4 to 4.5 feet long and 1 inch square, they are pushed into the ground at a depth of 12 inches to begin the process. To avoid continuous adjustments to the boom sprayer, a steady stake height should be maintained. Twine should be threaded through the tomato stakes in order to support the stems of the plants. A second method for securing twine to the end stake is to weave the twine around each stake and then string it down one side of the plants. Do that on the other side. The first level of twine should be between 8 and 10 inches above the ground, and the last two layers should be between 6 and 8 inches apart.. In most cases, three strands of twine are all that’s required. Stringing tomatoes until the plants are dry will help prevent the spread of fungal infections.
Tomato farming techniques – Tomato farming guide
If done correctly and on a scalable level, growing tomatoes outside can be a profitable endeavor. Tomatoes are perennial plants, however they are treated as annuals by farmers in the majority of cases. An indoor protected environment is the preferred method of seedling production for the majority of commercial tomato growers. Preparation work takes place while the young seedlings grow and are ready to be transplanted (30-50 days is typical). Remove any traces of prior farming by tilling the area. The ground may be covered with a black plastic covering by certain farmers. In addition to increasing soil temperature, this plastic film also acts as a weed suppressant. In addition, tomato growers construct and set up their drip irrigation system before planting.
When they are ready for transplanting, they make small holes in the plastic film, where they plant the seedlings. Fertilization, Drip Irrigation and Weed Management are applied in most cases. When plants reach a height of 40 cm (16 inches), most growers stake the plants, mainly the indeterminate varieties. If not, the plants are incapable of supporting their weight and further develop (this does not apply for processed tomato varieties). Producers may also apply thinning in some table varieties. This means that commercial tomato growers remove some fruits at their early development stages. They do so in order to encourage the plant to devote its resources to fewer but bigger and tastier fruits.
After a period of time, the seedlings can be transplanted into the ground by making small holes in the plastic film. Weed Control and Fertilization are used in most circumstances. Most gardeners stake indeterminate kinds when they reach 40 cm (16 inches) in height. As a result, plants can’t hold their weight and can’t grow any farther (this does not apply for processed tomato varieties). Some table varieties may also be thinned by producers. These fruits are removed at an early stage of growth by commercial tomato farmers. For this reason, the plant is encouraged to produce smaller, but more flavorful, fruits.
When it comes to producing tomatoes in the open air, the temperature is almost always the limiting factor. A temperature range of 64.4 to 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit is required for the plant on average, but the soil should not be allowed to drop below 14 degrees Celsius (57 degrees Fahrenheit). The process will be slowed down if the temperature is too low during the development phase. Shocked plants are nearly impossible to recover from.
It is essential to determine the best method of cultivating tomatoes as well as which types flourish in our area. When it comes to raising tomatoes, there are three options: seed, non-grafted seedlings, and grafted seeds
How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed
During the summer months, tomatoes are a common crop. On average, it takes 7 to 10 weeks from the time of transplantation until the time of harvest for tomatoes. If you want to raise tomatoes from seed, you should be aware of a few things. In order to germinate, tomato seeds need a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). As a second need, the seeds must have an ideal moisture content in order to germinate. The consequences of over-irrigation can be dire. In areas where frost is a possibility, farmers prefer to put seeds in seedbeds before transplanting them to their final locations. A hectare of land is equal to 10.000 square meters, or 2,47 acres, of seed.
How to Grow Tomatoes from Non-Grafted Seedlings
Tomatoes can also be grown from seeds or plants that have not been grafted. If we use this strategy, we must carefully select the variety of tomato we intend to grow. A variety of soil-borne illnesses, pests, excessive pH or saline levels in our location may limit the success of some crops. Some cultivars can withstand some of these conditions, while others can’t.
How to Grow Tomatoes from Grafted Seedlings
Grafted tomato seedlings have become increasingly popular among farmers in recent years. Transplanting parts of two plants into one new one is known as grafting, and it is one of the most popular methods used to do this. The scion of the first plant grows on the root system of the second plant, which is known as the rootstock. A plant that combines the advantages of its various components will eventually be developed. Some experienced producers prefer to develop the rootstock and scion plants from seed since they have specific skills. They then carry out the grafting procedure on their own. For some, it’s more important to only acquire grafted seedlings from reputable sources.
Soil Requirements for Tomato Farming
Tomatoes don’t require a specific type of soil to thrive. They may thrive in a range of soils, as long as they are well-draining. With adequate aeration and drainage, however, the plant thrives. Both dry and wet circumstances might harm the plant. A pH of 6 to 6.5 is considered ideal.
A few weeks prior to planting tomato seedlings, you should begin basic soil preparation. Removing any previous crop residues and weeds, farmers plow well at a depth of 60 cm (23.6 inches). Drainage and aeration of the soil can be improved by plowing. Rocks and other unwanted materials can also be removed by using this method. In one week’s time, many farmers will use a base fertilizer like well-rotted manure or synthetic commercial fertilizer, but only after thoroughly inspecting their soil test findings and consulting with an area professional agronomist. On the same day as tilling, most farmers apply top dressing. Others prefer to apply top dressing across the planting lines, while others spread it over the entire field. There’s no denying that the first approach saves money. The drip irrigation pipes should be installed the next day. The linear polyethylene coating is the final and most important phase (particularly in countries with low soil temperatures during the planting time). The rows may be covered with black or green Infrared-Transmitting (IRT) or black plastic film by many producers. They employ this method to keep the temperature of the root zone optimal (above 21 °C or 70 °F) and to avoid the growth of weeds.
Tomato Planting, Plant spacing and Number of Plants per Hectare
Many tomato-producing countries like to plant their outside tomatoes around the middle or the second half of spring, depending on the weather conditions. Planting can likely begin early if temperatures are high enough, however. Tomatoes are typically planted in the early summer in northern regions.
Hardening” is a common technique for seedlings before they may be transplanted. The process of hardening is essentially a form of imposed stress. In order to assist the plant adapt to new conditions, it may use temperature change or other tactics. By gradually decreasing the amount of water available to their plants, producers often generate water stress. Farmers stop watering fully 13-15 hours before transplanting, then re-irrigate soon after transplanting. Prior to transplanting the seedlings, tomato growers store them in seedbeds for 30-50 days. Transplanting seedlings is best done when they are 3 to 6 weeks old. A 20 cm (8 inch) average height and 3 to 5 genuine leaves are seen at this stage.
We may now begin transplanting after completing all of the preparatory stages (plowing, base fertilizing, irrigation system installation, and plastic film covering). Growers mark the exact areas where they will plant the seedlings on the plastic sheet or directly on the soil. Seedlings are planted in the holes dug in the ground. As at the nursery, it is critical to sow the seedlings at their original depths.
Tomato seedlings are often grown in single rows in the field. The standard spacing for single-row plantings is between plants is 12-24 inches, while the standard spacing between rows is 0.8-1.3 meters (2.6-4.3 feet). When planting in twin rows, growers maintain a spacing of 1.2 m (3.94 ft) between the two pairs and a distance of 0.45 m (1.48 ft) between the rows. We will roughly plant 15000-30000 plants per hectare if we follow these patterns. Tomato varieties, ambient circumstances, irrigation systems, and yield targets all influence the distances and number of plants. a hectare is equal to approximately 10,000 square meters.
How to Prune Tomatoes
Indeterminate tomato varieties, in particular, benefit greatly from pruning as a key farming practice. It has a number of benefits. Pruning helps farmers keep an eye on the health of their plants’ growth and fruit production. Pruning also makes aeration easier, which helps keep infections at bay. Harvesting and other farming methods (such as chemical spraying) are also made more simpler.
Tomato plants that haven’t been clipped will eventually stop producing enough fruit. Pruning is different for each tomato, and we need to be aware of this. Determinate and indeterminate tomatoes are the most common varieties grown in the United States. In order to grow properly, indeterminate types require more trimming than their determinate counterparts. A popular method of pruning is to remove everything but the central vein of a stem before replanting. This results in a single-veined and vertically growing plant. In the early stages of the plant’s development, another option is to deadhead the plant and then remove all of the peripheral stems save for stems 2–4. In this way, the plant grows up to four major branches.
Thinning is also commonly used by producers. The stems that develop in between the vein and the leaves are cut off by this procedure. Cutting the stem too close to the vein can lead to complications. Instead, you may want to leave a spacing of four centimeters to avoid the spread of germs. There are a number of tomato types available that don’t require pruning when grown in the open air.
Stabbing tomatoes is a common practice among tomato growers. Staking is nearly usually necessary for ambiguous varieties. The adoption of this method has numerous advantages. First and foremost, it keeps foliage and fruit off the ground while also providing additional aeration area. Moreover, harvesting is made considerably simpler as a result. When tomatoes have grown to a height of 40 cm or more, it is time to begin stacking them (16 inches).
Stakes are laid out in a row next to each plant, and the plants are carefully tied to them. It is possible to place a wire every 11.8 inches (11.8 cm) for roughly 1.5 meters (59 inches). Parallel to the lines, the wire is positioned parallel to the piles.
Tomato Water Requirements -Tomato Irrigation Systems
During the growing season, outdoor tomato farming may necessitate irrigation water usage of up to 700 millimeters. Rainwater provides a large portion of the water needed for outdoor crops. However, the watering needs of tomato plants vary depending on the plant’s development stage. If you’re concerned about irrigation, the most important times are during flowering and fruit set. There are a lot fewer water needs in the early stages.
However, water needs can vary greatly depending on weather and soil conditions. As an example, sandy soils require more water than clay soils. Tomato cultivars, on the other hand, may necessitate varying amounts of water.
The majority of growers claim that they irrigate their plants for 10 minutes every 4-5 days in winter and every two days in summer. The plant’s roots are forced to grow deeper because they are forced to’seek’ water in this way. Until the 3rd inflorescence is set, they follow this pattern. For the rest of the growing season, the plants are irrigated nearly every day.
Tomatoes are typically watered in the early morning or late evening by farmers. Disease outbreaks have been attributed to overwatering of plants. As a general rule, excessive humidity, particularly on foliage, might encourage disease outbreaks. Water-stressed plants, on the other hand, are more vulnerable to infection.
Drip irrigation is the most popular method of irrigation. Drip pipes with a diameter of 12-20 mm are commonly used by many manufacturers, either in multiples or as single units. These can deliver 2-8 liters of water each hour.
Tomato Fertilization Requirements – Best Tomato Fertilizer
Before beginning any fertilization program, it is imperative that the soil in your field be tested on a semi-annual or annual basis to determine its current state. There are no two fields in the world that are exactly same. If your soil test results, tissue analysis, and crop history aren’t taken into consideration, no one can give you sound guidance on fertilization methods. There are numerous tomato fertilization programs utilized by farmers, therefore we’ll list some of them below.
As a general guideline, tomatoes require an average of 480 kilogram K2O per hectare (= 2.47 acres), 30 CaO per hectare, and 18 kg MgO per hectare.
During the two to three months between planting and harvest, farmers typically apply zero to ten applications of fertilizer. Around two months before planting, many farmers apply well-rotted manure to the rows. Pre-planting nitrogen fertilizer is another method they employ.
Fertigation, on the other hand, is the most widely used form of tomato fertilization. Drip irrigation systems are used to apply water-soluble fertilizers. Because they deliver nutrients in this manner, the plant has ample opportunity to absorb them.
Fertigation begins within a few days of planting. A 13-40-13 or 15-30-15 fertilizer, supplemented with trace elements is applied at this point (micronutrients). In the early stages, high Phosphorus concentrations aid in the development of a strong root system in plants. In addition, micronutrients help plants deal with the stress of transplantation.
Until the third set of inflorescences, they keep applying Ca every three days. Next, they adjust their ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to 1-1-2. Upon reaching maturity, the ratio of the fruits shifts back to 1-1-3. Plants have a greater demand for potassium to produce large, well-shaped fruits at this point in time.
Another fertilization program identifies the following stages as the most critical in the tomato crop cycle:
Stage 1 of the Leaf’s Growth (2 to 15 days after transplanting)
The Stage of Flowering (16 to 30 days after transplanting)
The Arrival of the Fruit (31 to 41 days after transplanting)
Growth of fruits in this stage (day 42 to harvest)
Total fertigation fertilizer application in kilograms (kg) throughout these periods:
- For the first 29 days of the experiment, they apply 16 kg N, 4 kg P2O5, 24 kg K20, and 2 kg CaO to the soil.
- At the end of the 11-day period, they administer 6 kg of N, 2 kg of P2O5, 8 kg of K20, and 1 kg of CaO to the soil.
- Farmers add 20 kilogram N, 6 kg P2O5, 35 kg K20, and 2 kg CaO during the fruit growing phase (period 4). The whole area of the farm is calculated in kilos per hectare, not in daily amounts.
As a result, they are simply some of the most popular methods. Individuals must conduct their own investigation before following them. Every field is unique and has its own set of requirements. Before using any fertilizer method, it is essential to do a soil and pH test. Consult a certified agronomic in your area.
Outdoor Tomato Harvesting and Storage
The majority of tomatoes mature and are suitable for harvesting 7-10 weeks after transplanting, depending on the tomato variety, the environmental conditions, the age of the transplants, and other agricultural procedures.
Industrial tomatoes (tomatoes processed for sauce and canning) are harvested mechanically at one time by producers. This is more common in the latter part of the summer. Tomatoes intended for raw eating (table types) are typically harvested by hand, along with the calyx and a portion of the pod. Tomatoes are often harvested one or two stages before they reach full ripeness. You need this if you plan to ship tomatoes across the country. Farmers harvest about twice a week on average throughout the harvest period, which might run for several weeks.
Outdoor Tomato Yields
Outdoor tomato cultivation yields typically 60-100 metric tons per hectare (53.553 – 89.255 pounds per acre) when using stalked crops. Although determinate varieties typically yield between 30 and 50 tonnes per hectare (26.776 and 44.627 pounds per acre), this is owing to their shorter crop cycles. A typical output of 60-80 tonnes per hectare (53.553 – 71.404 pounds per acre) is achieved by competent professional growers. These are average yields, however there are a number of notable exceptions.
They are sorted by size, shape, and overall condition before being sold. In order to prevent weight loss, they’re subsequently moved to storage locations that aren’t quite freezing (13°C – 55.4°F). Tomatoes can be stored at temperatures as low as 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) if they are picked at the peak of ripeness. Tomatoes that are not properly watered will not be able to achieve their full maturity. To get a deep red color, the development of the chemicals that give fruit its red color is halted at lower temperatures.
Most common Tomato Nutrient Deficiencies
An absence of nutrients in the soil does not necessarily indicate depletion of the soil’s nutritional supply. The inability of plants to absorb a certain nutrient can be the result of several environmental or other causes. Prior to taking corrective action, farmers should conduct soil and tissue tests. Producers and agronomists can only discuss a remedy to an issue after getting test results.
The indications of a tomato N deficit include yellowing of the older leaves. After the deficit has developed, we begin to notice yellow leaves in this area of the vegetation. Afterwards, the entire plant turns pale green and often has less development. Many factors can contribute to a deficit, such as high levels of potassium or phosphorus or excessive soil dampness.
Interveinal chlorosis is the most common sign of potassium insufficiency. There may be wilting and browning of older foliage. Increased organic matter content, elevated magnesium or calcium levels, extended dryness, low pH levels, increased EC levels, and low temperatures are some of the causes of K insufficiency..
Blossom end rot is the most common symptom of Ca-deficiency. At any stage of fruit growth, a flat brown spot may emerge at the fruit blossom end and be referred to as this. In this instance, the fruit’s market worth drops quickly. Blossom end rot is a perfect breeding ground for fungi. Some of the causes of calcium insufficiency include long-term usage of nitrogen fertilizers, root injuries that make it difficult for the plant to absorb calcium, fast swings in soil water levels, too much Potassium, Magnesium or Sodium, or low pH levels.
Physiological Anomalies of Tomatoes
Sunscald is a result of prolonged exposure to sunshine for fruit. When tomatoes are exposed to direct sunlight, they acquire a yellow to white region with thin dried skin. This anomaly is caused by an abnormally high ratio of foliage to fruit.
Drought and heat, as well as other stresses like intensive pruning or rapid plant development, are thought to be the cause of Leafroll Disorder. Tomatoes grown in greenhouses are susceptible to this problem.
Crackers made from fruit
Flesh cracks are a type of damage to fruit that occurs after a protracted dry spell when the fruit’s water absorption suddenly increases.
Common Tomato Pest and Diseases
The very utmost
Tuta was unknown just a few years ago. However, it is currently the greatest threat to tomato growers. Tuta absoluta, a Lepidoptera that has wreaked havoc on tomatoes, is a South American native. Other Solanaceae, such as potatoes, are also attacked by it without suffering any damage. In 2006, the insect first appeared in nations around the Mediterranean, and is now a major concern for tomato growers worldwide. They lay their eggs under leaves, stalks or even fruits when they’re mature. The little larvae begin to eat them. Fruits lose their commercial value when the foliage or stalks collapse.
Managing a crop that has been infected makes things more difficult. Because Tuta is so susceptible to pesticide resistance, the most effective way to manage it is by biological means. The use of pheromone traps is prevalent. It prevents male insects from interacting with reproductive females by attracting them. As a result, they manage to lower their overall population.
Many plants, including tomato, are damaged by the Lyriomyza spp. bug. This fly’s harm is comparable to that of Tuta absoluta. Adults lay their eggs by puncturing leaves, stems, and fruits. Young larvae begin feeding on tissues as soon as they hatch, resulting in the characteristic white mines. The fruit’s quality and commercial worth are negatively impacted by the damage. Most of Tuta absoluta’s recommendations are included into the management process.
The tiny spider mite Tetranychus urticae infects a wide variety of plants, including tomatoes. Spiders hibernate in leaf litter and prey on tomatoes when the weather is warm and dry. The yellow discoloration or characteristic bronze-brown wilt that closely resembles flame damage is caused by mites attacking the leaves in order to feed. We may also see webs between the trees.
Traps should be used frequently to monitor the population. After speaking with a local qualified agronomist, if the number exceeds acceptable limits, you may consider intervention. Biological and chemical solutions are available, and they must be utilized in accordance with Good Agricultural Practices.
Diseases of Tomatoes
A fungal disease known as Botrytis (Grey Mold)
Botrytis cinerea, the fungus that causes grey mold, is a serious tomato disease. sclerotia, the pathogen’s spores, can remain viable for a long time. Infections thrive in low temperatures and high humidity, and spores are dispersed by wind and rain. All portions of the plant above ground may show symptoms, although healthy tissue is not actively infected. An infection can develop in tissue that has been wounded, such as after a procedure like pruning. Grey to brown lesions appear on the leaf margins as symptoms. These sores get grey and moldy after a while. Cankers can form on injured tissue and encircle the plant’s veins, causing the plant to die. If the fruit is contaminated, it will become squishy and water-soaked, making it impossible to eat.
Preventative interventions are the first step in disease control. Crop rotation is the most important phase. Weed control and safe distances between plants are also crucial. Additionally, it’s important to prune at the correct time and avoid overwatering the leaves. An increase in plant immunity may also be attributed to the plants’ general health (nutrients and water levels, light exposure). Only if the problem is severe and under the guidance of a local qualified agronomist is chemical therapy used. In addition, proper sanitation, such as the cleaning of instruments, must be used whenever we come into contact with the plants.
It’s called Alternaria, and it’s (Early Blight)
The Alternaria solani fungus is responsible for this devastating tomato disease. Overwintering crop debris or seeds or weeds can transmit the virus through the air and water. A variety of tomato stages are affected by Alternaria. Seedling rot, stem cankers, and other symptoms can be seen. A number of preventative steps can be taken to reduce the risk of infection, such as crop rotation, weed management, removal of plant detritus and use of tomato varieties that are resistant.
Late-Blight (Phytophthora infestans)
Large commercial outdoor tomato farms are at risk of disease spread due to heavy rains in late spring or early summer in several regions. P. infestans can wreak havoc on tomato plants that have been infected. The dark brown stains on tomato fruits develop and eventually kill the entire fruit.
The fungus Colletotrichum spp. is responsible for anthracnose, a common tomato disease. However, while it is possible that the virus can infect any section of the plant, we have seen symptoms most frequently in ripe fruits. Infected fruits may not appear until the fruit has matured. White circular sores periodically expand and turn dark when symptoms appear on ripening tomatoes.
Mildew on Paper
When conditions are right, Powdery Mildew, unlike many other fungi-caused tomato illnesses, can develop even in periods of low humidity. A white powdery mildew of fungal mycelium may be clearly seen on the leaf’s upper surface. Upper-surface green chlorotic angular lesions may also be a sign of the disease. To keep healthy plants safe from infection, we must always wash our hands thoroughly after handling an infected plant. The usage of resistant plants is integrated with all of the Botrytis control techniques.
It’s caused by the fungi Verticillium albo-atrum and Verticillium dahliae, which are both found in the soil. Plant tissue can support the pathogen, which can be spread by nematodes. Infection occurs through the plant’s roots. There is a danger that we could miss the disease’s early symptoms, making it more difficult to treat it later. The plant’s vascular system is decimated as a result of the disease. It is impossible for water and nutrients to reach the tomato plant’s uppermost sections. In the final phases of the disease cycle, warmer days show wilting of leaves. V-shaped lesions also appear on the leaves, as well as chlorosis.
Spotted wilt of the tomato (TSWV)
TSWV is a condition that should not be overlooked. TSWV is primarily transmitted by thrips. Dark stains and streaks on leaves and stems are symptoms of this disease. Plants that become infected prior to fruit set are less likely to bear fruit as a result of infection. After tomato cultivation, the virus has been found to infect weeds as well. Unfortunately, even when the land is left fallow, this serves a critical role in maintaining the infection.
Herbicides, plastic mulch, and a well-designed crop rotation scheme are all effective ways to keep weeds under control. Tomatoes can benefit from a variety of preplant and postemergence herbicides, depending on the weed situation and the tomato’s growth stage. Early cultivation can help reduce weed problems if infection levels are low.
Colorado potato beetles, in particular, pose a significant threat to tomato output. Tomato plants are rarely attacked by the first spring beetle populations, which instead lay thousands of eggs per acre and reproduce rapidly. It is possible to avoid crop losses by controlling adult Colorado potato beetles early on. Corn earworm, European corn borer, armyworm, whitefly, spider mite, and fruit fly are just a few of the other pests that can damage crops. Using traps or weekly scouting to monitor insect populations will assist you determine if and how often you should use insecticides.
There are a number of tomato diseases that may cause crop losses, including as canker, bacterial spot, leaf blights (including anthracnose), viruses, early blight, late blight, and anthracnose. Extremes in soil moisture or weather can also induce a variety of fruit diseases. Cat-facing, blotchy ripening, graywall, yellow shoulders, sunburn, sunscald, and fruit cracking are only some of the symptoms. Using fungicides and disease-resistant cultivars, keeping correct plant nutrition, rotating crops, and growing in soil with good air and water drainage are all ways to control plant infections and fruit problems.
In it to be economically viable, growing tomatoes organically will necessitate intensive management and monitoring. Consult Organic Vegetable Production if you’d want to learn more about growing organic vegetables.
Harvest and Storage
Fresh-market tomato harvesting is time-consuming and necessitates several pickings. There are often four to six harvests of tomatoes per season, depending on variety of plant and maturity and market value. Picking tomatoes at a mature green to breaker stage prevents them from getting overripe during transport and storage. If you are able to get ripe tomatoes to market promptly and in acceptable shape, you can leave the tomatoes on the vine to ripen. Vine-ripening tomatoes can be purchased at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or other direct marketplaces. Once the tomatoes have been harvested, farmers should inspect them for size, color, and flaws in order to guarantee that they are ready for sale.
The ripeness of a tomato determines how long it can be stored. Temperatures between 63 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for ripening mature green tomatoes, whereas temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit or below 55 degrees Fahrenheit are detrimental. Storage at 90 to 95 percent humidity at a temperature of 46 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit will extend the shelf life of mature red tomatoes by four to seven days.
Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law applies to all agricultural producers in the state, including small-scale and part-time farmers. The Nutrient Management Act is a part of this legislation. Depending on your farm’s mix of activities, some of the provisions of Act 38 (Nutrient Management Act) may apply to you (in particular, animal operations). Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to find out what restrictions apply to your farm because all farms are potential sources of surface or groundwater pollution.
If you run a farm, there are a number of ways you can mitigate risk. It’s a good idea to insure your farm’s buildings and equipment, as well as your crops. Getting a farm insurance policy can be done by contacting an insurance agent or broker you trust. In addition to typical crop insurance policies, you can also protect your entire farm’s income through AGR-Lite. You’ll need your last five years of Schedule F papers from the IRS to apply for AGR-Lite insurance. Private crop insurance agents can sell both types of federally subsidized insurance plans. Get in touch with a crop insurance agent to find out which form of policy is ideal for your situation.
Please visit Agricultural Business Insurance for additional information about agricultural business insurance. The Penn State Extension website has more information about crop insurance.
A hypothetical fresh-market tomato production budget is provided in this guide. For some of the field work, this budget makes use of custom hire. Small- and medium-sized businesses may find it more cost-effective to hire custom operators and manpower rather than invest in expensive equipment. Additionally, you should look into renting plastic mulch layers. Custom-hire charges can be substituted for equipment costs by producers who own their own equipment. You can use this budget to make sure you’ve taken into account all of your tomato-related expenses and income when making your final estimates. Budgeting can be challenging due to the large number of unknowns and the wide range of possible outcomes. As a result, you should treat this budget as an approximation and make the necessary adjustments in the “Your Estimate” column to account for your individual production and resource needs. Enterprise Budget Analysis has more information on how crop budgets can be used in agricultural operations.
The interactive PDF budget files for this publication allow you to make adjustments by entering your own prices and quantities in the green-outlined cells for any item. When you make adjustments to the green-bordered cells, the red-bordered cells automatically tally up your new totals. To finish your custom budget, click on each of the green-outlined cells and enter your own projected price and quantity information. Use the green Print Form button located at the bottom of the form to print your completed budget. When you’re done, click the red “Clear Form” button to remove everything from your budget.
Sample Budget Worksheet
- An Example of a Low-Cost Fresh Market Tomato
Initial Resource Requirements
One acre of land
A typical acre of land requires 19 hours of labor.
$800 per acre for harvesting
A single acre of land costs $6,000 in capital
a depreciation rate of $600 per acre
- 40-60 hp tractor
- Implements used in tillage
- It’s possible to borrow or hire a transplanter.
- a sprayer with a boom
- Trailer or wagon
Tips for Growing Tomatoes in a Commercial Capacity
Even if you’ve had success growing tomatoes in your own backyard, running a business is a very different animal altogether. These pointers will help you get your company off the ground.
Study Your Local Tomato Market
Tomatoes can be harvested at two different times in Florida. As soon as the last frost has passed, which is usually in early February, you can begin planting them. Early summer is when these crops will be ready for sale. Late fall and early winter are also good times to plant.
Find out which timetable is most profitable in your local market by conducting some research. Early-season tomato producers abound in your area, but fall-harvesters are few and far between. You may be able to make more money by planting later in the season because there will be fewer competitors.
No reason why you can’t take full use of both the spring and fall blooming seasons. Starting with the cycle that has the most promise in your location is better if you are counting on your first harvest’s income to fund the second one.
You Need a Spacious Farm to Grow Tomatoes
Tomatoes have a well-deserved reputation for requiring a lot of sunlight and air movement. As a result, they should be placed at a distance from other large trees and plants. Because of this, they should not be located too close to any buildings. Make certain that your property’s layout can support tomatoes before you invest in them.
Axillary Growth Can Put a Serious Damper on Your Crop Yield
The axillary development of tomato plants is particularly prolific. When adjacent plants are crowded and resources are diverted from the apical buds, the yield is reduced.
Trim the axillary growth of your tomato plants frequently to increase their production. Trim the bottom portions of your plants as they mature. Make certain that the plant has enough leaves at the top for optimum absorption of energy. Leaving roughly a third of the healthy leaves on the plant is a decent guideline.
Invest in Plastic Mulch
Many people who cultivate tomatoes in their own backyards utilize inexpensive mulch. It is worth the money if you want to run a successful business operation.
The roots of your plants will be kept warm and wet if you use plastic mulch. Increasing your yield can be greatly aided by this.
However, it’s essential to use the correct plastic mulch. Depending on the type of crop, certain hues work better than others. Tomatoes benefit from black plastic mulch, which is commonly used. Tomato plants do well with some types of red plastic mulch, but not all.
You Can Boost Your Yield by Trellising and Clipping Your Plants
The plants can reach a height of 30 feet or more if you’ve never grown tomatoes on a large scale before. It’s critical that you start teaching your plants as soon as possible in order to manage their growth.
Clips and trellis strings are commonly used by growers for this purpose. The best way to get your plants to generate two apical points that point in opposite directions is to bend them.
Use clips to gently bend or twist your plants to give them an extra boost. To help your tomatoes grow faster and more productively, you can add this to your soil.
Chances Are That You’ll Need to Force Pollination
As if you hadn’t heard, the natural bee population is in decline. When it comes to growing food, you may have noticed it yourself.
Natural pollination is no longer an option for sustaining and growing your tomato business. You should learn how to self-pollinate if you want to maximize your crop’s production.
Mechanical pollination may be the most convenient option in several instances. For this method to work, you’ll need to shake your tomato plants to disperse pollen.
This can be accomplished with the use of specialist equipment. Mechanical pollination can be done by hand to keep expenses down. Avoid injuring your plants by being careful with your tools.
It’s possible to grow a beehive in the greenhouse where you grow your tomatoes. This is the more natural option, although it’s not always easy. Inexperienced greenhouse growers may not have the time or inclination to maintain bees.
Fortunately, future options like robotic bees are being developed by researchers. Expect to employ the strategies outlined above for the time being.
Research Distribution Channels Before You Start Growing
Beginner farmers and those looking to expand their operation often make this blunder. You don’t want to spend money on tomatoes just to have a bumper crop and no market for it.
Before you expand, make certain you have routes of distribution that are viable for your product. Find out if the distributors who handle your other crops also handle tomatoes if you’re already a farmer. If this is the case, contact local tomato distributors to see if they can help.
Setting Up a Successful Tomato Operation
As much as farming for profit is a scientific endeavor, it is also an art form. You can learn a lot from other farmers’ experiences and pick up a few new ideas in the process. Starting off in tomato growing, do much study, but also know that you’re in for a learning curve.
Get in touch with our agricultural experts if you’re ready to get started on your tomato enterprise.