SOWING GUIDE FOR TOMATO

SOWING GUIDE FOR TOMATO

Climate and Soil Requirements
Tomato plants are sensitive to amount of direct sunlight available to them. The optimum temperature for germination is at 20-30°C. Young plants grow well to day and night temperature of around 25°C but as the crop grows older, it seems to benefit from lower night than day temperature. Fruit setting is reduced when temperature is over 32°C during the day and 21°C for night temperature. Heat tolerant varieties may have a higher temperature threshold wherein fruit setting is still normal. Lower than 10°C temperature also results to poor fruit set.
Tomatoes can thrive on many soil types with good drainage but preferably in sandy loam soil. Avoid areas known to have nematodes and bacterial wilt disease. You can as well manage such soil by reducing the acidity of the soil through the use of lime. Nematodes can’t survive in alkaline soil and bacterial wilt which is a major disease of tomato often infects tomato through the activities of nematode on the roots of tomato plant in the soil. Also, you could go for varieties with intermediate resistance to bacterial wilt. Planting tomatoes continuously in the same area previously planted
with tomato and or other Solanaceous crops like pepper and eggplant will cause pests and diseases build up. Good soil pH for tomato ranges between 6.0-7.0.


Land Preparation
Prepare the field a month before transplanting. Spread and mix decomposed animal manure or compost at 1.5 kg/square meters; preferably at least two weeks before planting. If soil is acidic (pH below 5.8), CaCO3 should be applied a month before transplanting at a rate of 2-4t/ha. CaCO3 in pulverized form can be spread on the soil evenly before second plough.

Bed Preparation
The dimension of the beds you want to make depends on your choice. However, you may not need to make beds during the dry season unless you have strong yet reliable irrigation facilities. In the lowlands, making of beds is highly recommended during the wet season.  Irrigation and drainage canals should be well prepared to prevent water logging during rains. Cover the beds with mulching material to minimize weeding or put in place workable weed control programme. Incorporate 150kg /acre of complete fertilizer applying it through targeted measure.

Mulching
Tomatoes can be planted without mulch but mulch has its own inherent advantages when used. The use of reflectorized plastic mulch can also help minimize insect pest particularly in the early stages of growth. Plastic mulching is especially recommended during the wet season to improve drainage. Leaching of nutrients is also reduced. Moreover, it is a practical way of controlling weed growth. The advantages of using plastic mulch especially in the wet season (when the market price is high) more than compensates for the cost of the material. Mulching may not be cost effective during dry season.

Sowing 
        I.            Use of seed tray
Prepare soil mix; generally 2:1:1 peat moss, garden soil and sand. Coir dust or decomposed rice hull can be used as an alternative for peat moss. This could be bought already prepared from horticultural outlets. Plant one seed per hole and hand water then sprinkle appropriate insecticide (e.g. Furadan) to prevent insect damage. Saturate the seedling trays with water for three days. Regulate watering after germination.
A week after sowing, spray germinated seedlings with foliar fertilizer. This should be done early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid leaf burning. After two weeks of germination, you could either sprinkle with dissolved complete NPK 15:15:15 (a full milk tin cup in 16L of water) or use a single NPK granule per hole.
      II.            Use of seed beds
Seedling beds can be utilize in growing seedlings, however, a lot of seedlings maybe damage during uprooting due to interconnecting roots. This would also lengthen the transplanting recovery of the seedlings but you can mitigate this by spacing the seeds while planting them.
(CLICK to read more on nursery preparation)

Hardening
Harden seedlings at least 3-6 days before transplanting. This is done by regulating the watering and fertilizer application and exposing the seedlings to full sunlight to enable the plants to withstand stress during transplanting.

Planting/Transplanting
Seedlings can be transplanted around 21 days after sowing when the seedlings are about 5 inches tall or when seedlings have at least 3-5 true leaves. Transplanting can be done anytime of the day especially in cool areas or when the tomatoes have been hardened. In hot areas/days, however, planting is usually done late in the afternoon around 4:00 pm downward when the heat is less intense to minimize transpiration of the seedlings which permit them to recover faster. Press the soil around the plant base for faster root establishment. Irrigate the field as soon as possible. Spray insecticide a day after transplanting.  Damping off and other fungal diseases attacking the roots can be prevented by spraying with fungicide. During dry season, you could use 60 x 45 cm spacing but in wet season you need to ensure well ventilated field by increasing the spacing. 60 x 100 cm is ideal.

Watering
Water newly transplanted seedlings daily until they have recovered (1-2 weeks). After seedling recovery, irrigation maybe done only when the soil gets dry which is usually at 7-10 days interval depending on soil type and weather conditions.

Staking/Trellising
This is usually done 2 weeks after transplanting or just before flowering. Any system of trellising with the use of available materials can be adopted as long as the fruits are raised from the soil to prevent fungal disease development especially on the fruits. However, you should ensure that the staking measure does not bruise or injure the tomato plant as this may serve as entrance for diseases and or yield lost.

Fertilization (Soil application)
1st sidedressing
(Not really necessary)
2 Weeks After Transplanting
NPK 15:15:15 10g/plant
2nd sidedressing
4 Weeks After Transplanting
NPK 15:15:15 10g/plant
3rd sidedressing
During early stage of fruiting
NPK 15:15:15 10g/plant
1 tablespoon (tbsp) = 10 grams. The fertilizer program used largely depends on your soil test result but where such test isn’t available; you could blind fold the use as stated above.


Fertilization (Folia application)
Spray liquid fertilizer every 3 weeks to supply important micro nutrients your tomato plants may not readily get from the soil. This would greatly increase your yield, disease resistant ability of your plant etc

Insecticide/fungicide application
To be on top of disease infections and pest attacks, use preventive measure rather than curative. Spray insecticide and fungicide every two weeks but do not mix them in the same sprayer tank. You can also do well by not using only a particular insecticide/fungicide (with one specific active ingredient) but change the actives ingredient to prevent resistant build from the diseases/insects.

Weed Control
Weeding program must be put in place especially in wet season. Weeds, if allow to grow have potential of harboring disease causing agents and more badly, compete with your tomato plant thereby reducing your yield. Manure weeding is highly recommended. The importance of mulching film could also be seen here.

Harvesting

Harvesting of tomatoes can be done anytime of the day but it is best harvested in the morning when there is less transpiration and moisture loss of the fruits. Tomato fruits should kept under shade right after picking. Harvest the fruits at a 3-4 day interval. AT least 7-8 harvests can be done using a determinate type. However, you could make almost all your fruits ripe almost at once by spraying ethylene based product. Proper handling starting at harvesting should be observed to avoid visible and internal damages, which would result to faster senescence and increased susceptibility to decay. Fruits at different stages of ripening must be packed separately to minimize handling damage. It is important to remove any particle such as soil adhering to the fruits since these would like induce infection.

Thanks for reading, if you run into any technical term and you wish to know more, please mail or whatapp us for more details.

For better understanding, you could order for our materials on A-Z commercial tomato cultivation. Watch the video and read more through: http://www.hybridveggies.com/p/veggies-ebook.html and https://youtu.be/Xa6Bwyhu-M0

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HYBRID VEGGIES : SOWING GUIDE FOR TOMATO
SOWING GUIDE FOR TOMATO
SOWING GUIDE FOR TOMATO
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