Tomato farming is one of the promising enterprises in Kenya. This can be attributed to the fact that the crop is one of the basic needs of most humans living in the country. Currently, the human diet makes great utilization of tomatoes as a spice and in almost all households, it is budgeted for on a daily basis. There has been some level of disputes in the actual classification of the crop. There are those holding that tomato is a fruit. Others claim it is a vegetable. This has remained a matter of how it is utilized, that is, whether as a spice in vegetable cooking, component of fruit salad, dessert etc.
- Open pollinated- money maker, Galilea, Cal J, Rambo F1, Shanty, Beauty, Marglobe, Rossol, Roma, M82
- Hybrids- Unique F1, Fortune maker, Kentom, Riograde etc
- Green house-Tilka F1, Kilele F1, Bingwa F1, Proster F1, Bravo F1, Chonto F1, Anna F1 etc
Altitude: 0-2000m above sea level
Rainfall: 600mm during production period
Temperature: 20-290 C during the day and 18-200 C at night
Soil: Tomatoes can grow in a variety of soil types; they do best in well-drained, deep, uniform clay or silty loams. The soil should be loose, the optimum pH for tomato production is between 6-7.5. In coming up with a fertilizer program the grower can carry out a soil analysis
- Consider previous planted crop. As general rule, farmers should observe at least a season break from tomato, pepper, potato or any other crop from the solanaceous family.
- This is done to avoid disease cycles and ensure less cost in disease
- Check the irrigation water quality. Excess sodium and fluoride may affect proper plant
- Check water availability particularly if you intend to use irrigation. Ideally, the land should be gentle sloping to facilitate drainage.
Prepare your land early enough to kill noxious weeds. Harrow the field to a fine tilth. Proper land preparation is necessary to loosen soil and break hard pans or compacted fields. During land preparation, 8 tons of farm yard manure per acre can be incorporated into the soil to improve its structure, this will in turn improve soil aeration and water percolation. In nematode infested areas, fumigation can be done with registered products. In soils whose pH is low; lime can be applied to raise the pH. For alkaline soils, gypsum can be used to reduce soil pH; it is also handy in sodium-level reduction. Planting on beds is recommended for low-lying, areas with high run-off; Raise the soil 15cm high with walkways of 30cm between the beds. Lay drip lines with the nozzles facing up.
Raise seeds on the nursery, this will ensure that you transplant healthy and strong plants. The excess seedlings can be sold to earn income.
Transplant seedlings after 3-4 weeks, 15-25cm high and 3-5 true leaves. Select the healthy and vigorous growing for this will ensure uniform plant stand.
For processing: 60cm by 70cm by 45cm
For fresh markets: 90cm by 60cm by 45cm
Apply one teaspoonful of Double Super phosphate (DSP). Apply two handful of well decomposed organic manure. Top dress the crop when plants attain a height of 25cm. Apply 100kg of CAN per hectare then 400kg per hectare 4 weeks later.
Water frequently to ensure a film of water in the root zone
Weed regularly to avoid water and nutrient competition, pest and disease problems.
Done to conserve water, reduce weed growth and competition for resources, reduce soil temperature, maintain soil fertility and enhance production of clean fruits.
Done to ensure production of clean fruits and help to avoid soil borne pests and diseases. This practice is done to tall indeterminate varieties.
Prune 1 to 2 main stems and pinch out the laterals as they grow every week. When 6-8 trusses are formed, pinch out the growing tip to encourage growth of good sized fruits. Remove leaves close to the ground to prevent entry of blight.
Americanbollworm: avoid planting the crop near maize or cotton to prevent heavy infestation. Spray appropriate insecticide
Redspidermite: practice field hygiene. Spray appropriate pesticides
Leaf hoppers: avoid planting near maize or cotton to prevent heavy infestation. Spray appropriate pesticide
Aphids: spray with insecticides such as confidor, thunder etc
White flies: spray insecticides such as confidor and thunder
Nematodes: crop rotation, fallowing during dry season. Use antipathogenic fungi such as nematechs and trichotech as soil drench or fertigation.
Late blight: spray ridomil gold
Early blight: practice good field hygiene, crop rotation. Spray ridomil gold
Septaria leaf spot: rogueing affected plants, crop rotation, spray benlate
Bacterial canker: plant healthy materials, crop rotation, rogueing affected plants, plant tolerant varieties
Bacterial wilt: crop rotation, practice field hygiene and plant certified seeds
Fusarium wilt:crop rotation, plant resistant varieties, heavy liming, soil fumigation with chloropicrin
Bacterial spot:avoid planting in affected fields, spray copper oxychloride
Blossom end rot:spray with calcium chloride, apply CAN or any other fertilizer containing calcium.
The crop will mature 3-4 months after transplanting. Fruits meant for processing should be harvested when fully ripe, vine to firm ripened fruits/full red color are harvested for fresh market. When harvesting avoid bruising the fruits as this can attract soft rot lowering the quality and shelf-life of fruits.