Tomato farming in Kenya is a common practice among many farmers. This is because everyone loves tomatoes. They are great in cooking, salads and sauces and even make a great gift. However, with these beautiful and tasty beauties comes a problem. Sometimes, right in the middle of thinking everything is alright with your tomatoes, you will find splitting tomatoes or tomato cracking. Farmers in Kenya have made losses through tomato cracking and we want to help you prevent it.
Fluctuation of temperatures sometimes can cause problems for newly growing tomato transplants. It is therefore very crucial to mulch your plants, either with organic mulch such as straws, wood chips or plastic. The mulch will conserve water and also prevent disease from spreading. When it comes to mulch and tomatoes, plastic mulch has shown to be the best mulch to help prevent tomato cracking. Sometimes, if you have a lot of rain after a spell of really dry weather, you’ll find splitting tomatoes on your tomato plants. A split tomato problem is really caused by lack of water. If you take away water, the tomatoes cannot stay lush and juicy, and the skin will crack just as your skin cracks if you do not have enough moisture. And when the tomatoes receive a large amount of water quickly after this, they fill with water and the skin bursts at the cracks like an overfilled water balloon.
This cracking problem in tomato is more than just an aesthetic problem. You will realize that through these cracks bacteria and fungus can be introduced into the fruit and cause them to rot or provide an easy access to pests. For you to prevent splitting in tomatoes, you will have to water your tomato plants once a week with about 1-2 inches of water. To keep tomato cracking to a minimum, be sure to keep your tomato plants watered evenly on a regular basis. Protect them from a severe drought in your absence by setting up a watering system on a timer. This way you can water your farm when you aren’t home to do it and you won’t have to deal with severe tomato cracking. It’s as easy as that to solve a split tomato problem. Finally, be sure to fertilize your tomatoes according to the instructions on your tomato fertilizer. Fertilizer or manure is important to keep the soil healthy enough to help your plants produce as many tomatoes as possible. If you follow these rules, soon enough you will have plenty of unsplit tomatoes to enjoy and to sell.
In the modern way of farming through green-houses, tomatoes are the most grown crops. With good temperature management and enough sunshine, greenhouse growers in most areas of the planet will get two tomato crops annually. Indoor conditions do need a lot of careful handling to forestall diseases and to pollinate the flowers successfully. Most families in Kenya today use tomatoes in their daily cooking. As a farmer, this is a great opportunity, and with a greenhouse,you are sure of more.
Tomatoes grow best at daytime temperatures of 21–27ºC, and nighttime temperatures of 16–18ºC. Make sure you can maintain these temperatures in your greenhouse for the next several months before you plant.
Ideally, bring temperatures to the lower end of this range on cold days, and raise them to the upper end (or even slightly higher) during clear, sunny days.
You’ll also need to keep humidity below 90% to prevent excessive leaf mold. Ventilate regularly to bring fresh, dry air into the greenhouse, especially on cool, cloudy mornings.
Select certified tomato variety
There are varieties of tomato varieties, so for detailed information it’s best to talk to local extension officers. There are a few guidelines and tips that apply to all regions, however:
Tomatoes marketed as greenhouse varieties are more tolerant of greenhouse conditions.
The letters VFNT and A after the name mean the variety is resistant to disease.
“Indeterminate” tomatoes grow and produce fruit indefinitely, taking advantage of the longer growing season inside a greenhouse. If you’re short on space, plant a “determinate” variety, which stops at a certain height.
Choose a growing medium
Tomatoes can grow in any well-drained soils. . You can use your preferred soil-less mix, or one of these options:
Perlite bags or rock wool slabs are the cheapest options in many areas.
Some growers prefer a 1:1 mix of manure and top soils
Purchase sterile soil mix or make your own. Never use soil or compost from your garden without sterilizing. Choose this option if you do not want to install an irrigation system.
Most growers install drip tubing to deliver water to each plant. A fertilizer injector attached to the tubing can automate fertilizing as well.
Tomatoes are also easy to grow in a hydroponics system.
Plant each seed in its own
Poke a ¼ inch (6mm) hole into each hole. Drop a single seed into each hole. Cover lightly with the potting mix.
Plant about 10 or 15% more seeds than you plan on growing, so you can discard the least healthy seedlings.
Moisten with water or dilute nutrient solution
Use plain water for soil, or seedling nutrient solution for soil-less mixes. Either way, water until the mixture is just damp enough to press into a clump, with only a few drops squeezed out. Water regularly to keep the mix damp.
A 5:2:5 nutrient solution that contains calcium and magnesium is ideal. Dilute the solution according to label instructions.
Do not bring the seeds into the greenhouse until they’ve sprouted, so you can check for disease and pests. Provide plenty of sunlight and keep the temperature at 24–27ºC during the day.
Adjust pH and calcium levels
Before the final transplant, you may want to check soil pH, which ideally falls between 5.8 and 6.8.If your soil is too acidic, add about 1 tsp (5 mL) hydrated lime for each gallon (3.8 L) of potting mix. Besides raising the pH, this adds calcium that can prevent blossom rot later on.
If your pH is fine, mix in gypsum or calcium sulfate instead to add calcium without changing the pH. Alternatively, just choose a fertilizer that contains calcium and apply every week or two.
In a hydroponics setup, you can supply calcium by injecting calcium nitrate into the irrigation feed. This requires a second injector, as calcium nitrate cannot be stored with your main fertilizer.
Caring for the Tomatoes
Start fertilizing the day you transplant the tomatoes into their final pot. Use a complete fertilizer high in nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), such as a 15-5-15 or 5-2-5. Dilute and apply the fertilizer according to label instructions.
Reduce fertilizer as the final fruits ripen. Do not fertilize in late autumn or winter, unless using artificial grow lights and reliable heaters.
Remove suckers weekly
Once a week, pinch off “suckers,” or side shoots that emerge where a leaf meets the main stem. Leave only the main bud at the top of the steam, plus the highest sucker below it. This trains the plant to grow upward instead of wide.
If the top of your plant is damaged, the top sucker can become the new main stem.
Stake the tomato plants
Tie the plants loosely to stakes with twine to keep them upright. Use plastic garden clips where necessary to secure the twine.
Commercial operations save on materials by stringing a wire over each row, with a support post every 20 ft (6m). Wrap the twine around each plant and fasten to the overhead wire.
Pollinate the flowers
Unlike many plants, a tomato can pollinate itself — but it needs some help. The pollen in a tomato flower is trapped inside a tube, and must be released through vibration. Since most greenhouses lack bees or high wind, you’ll need to act as the pollinator once flowers are fully open.
Apart from weekly sucker removal, pruning is not necessary until the plant starts to fruit:
Once fruit starts to grow, thin each cluster down to four or five fruits, removing the smallest or most misshapen. Very large fruits or winter conditions may require going down to three per cluster. Varieties with small fruits may not need any thinning.
As the fruit matures, snap off older leaves from the lower clusters. This helps improve air circulation.
Harvest as late as possible.
The longer the tomatoes stay on the vine, the fuller and redder they become.
Commercial growers typically pick a little early, when the fruit is 60–90% red, to allow for time in shipping.
If you need to know more about drip irrigation kits and how to apply it in your green house, contact us today.
If you are a farmer in Kenya, then you know that tomato farming is one of the most difficult because of diseases and pests. We list them here and list some of the friendliest solutions that might help you get rid of them.
To produce that perfect tomato, be alert. Keep an eye on your plant’s health, look for larvae and other insects, watch for signs of disease. And if you find them, come here for advice on what to do. Remember: part of a quick reaction is having the most efficient tools, products, and methods ready for when trouble shows its head. Be prepared.
If you see an insect on or near your beloved tomato plants, don’t rush for the nearest insecticide. Many insects are beneficial to the garden or at least neutral. That insect may be feeding on the very pests you’re having trouble with. Even if you’re looking at an enemy, one insect does not make an infestation. It’s best to identify the intruder and the level of damage it’s causing before implementing steps.
These are those dense clusters of tiny insects you may see on the stems or new growth of your tomato plants. While small numbers are not a big deal — don’t be afraid to crush them with your thumb — large infestations can gradually injure or even kill plants. Pinch off foliage where aphids are densely concentrated, and throw these discarded bits into the garbage, not on the ground. If the problem then seems manageable, release beneficial insects such as ladybugs or lacewings. If it doesn’t, go for the insecticidal soap that uses natural fats and plant oils or natural sprays, many of which are listed for organic production.
These are the tiny grub-like caterpillars that feed on young plant stems at night, frequently felling seedlings by eating right through them at ground level. Prevent damage by placing collars around seedlings. You can make these of paper, cardboard, aluminum foil, or an aluminum pie plate about ten inches long and four high, bent to form a circle or cylinder and stapled. Sink the collars about an inch into soil around individual seedlings, letting three inches show above the ground to deter high-climbers.
A potentially devastating visitor, the flea beetle (so-named because it resembles and jumps like a flea) attacks from both sides: adults eat foliage, leaving numerous small holes, while larvae feed on roots. They’re not picky, these beetles; they’ll go for corn, cabbage, lettuce, and all members of the Solanaceae family: peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes. Unless levels are very high, damage can be minimized and controlled by using preventative measures.
Clear away or plow under weeds and debris, in which adults over-winter.
Place yellow sticky-traps to monitor levels and capture adults.
Use row covers. Young plants are more vulnerable to damage, so cover them to keep beetles off.
Dusting plants with diatomaceous earth (a chalky stone composed of marine fossils, ground to powder) helps control adults feeding on foliage.
To attack the insect more directly, introduce beneficial nematodes into your soil to feed on the larvae and pupae.
In cases of high infestation and serious damage, botanical insecticides such as pyrethrin can be used.
These destructive caterpillars are so big — three inches long or more — that it would seem to be easy to control them just by picking them off. And so it is, sometimes. The dilemma is that their pale green color provides excellent camouflage, and the nymph and larval stages are far smaller and less obvious. If there are only a few, picking them off works well. (One site suggests spraying the plant with water, causing the caterpillars to, and I quote, “thrash around,” giving themselves away.) If there are more than a few, other measures may be called for. One of these is Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, an organic treatment that can control numerous other caterpillars as well.
This is one of the most dreaded tomato problems. Actually, almost 20,000 different species of nematode have been identified, and billions of these usually microscopic worms occupy each acre of fertile earth, so it is fortunate that only a few cause gardening troubles. Some, insect pathogenic nematodes, can actually help control other gardening pests such as fungus gnats or flea beetles. But when a gardening friend says in a voice of doom, “I’ve got nematodes,” he generally means one thing: root-knot nematodes. This particular species invades various crops, causing bumps or galls that interfere with the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and to perform photosynthesis. They’re most common in warmer areas with short winters. Unfortunately, controlling nematodes is not easy.
Rotation: Since they take several seasons to get established, rotating garden crops denies this pest the chance to get entrenched. It’s crucial, though, that you follow tomatoes with crops that are not vulnerable to the same problem! Members of the same family are of course taboo; this includes peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. However, less likely crops are also vulnerable; these include okra and cotton, in the south, and peas, squash, beets, and numerous others anywhere. If you suspect nematodes — if you ever pull a plant that has odd-looking lumpy growths on its roots — have your county extension agent take a look at it, and get advice about crop rotation in your area.
Soil sterilization: Completely sterilizing the soil is one option on small plots, but it’s toxic and sometimes expensive. It also means that you’ve killed off all the beneficial organisms in the soil as well as the troublesome ones, so it’s particularly important to follow such treatment with a big infusion of clean compost. It would also be best to add earthworms, and an assortment of micro-organisms as well, since doing so will restore the soil to full health and make it less vulnerable to further incursions by nematodes.
Nematodes: While eliminating nematodes is extremely difficult, it is possible to limit their damage by using resistant varieties, marked N. Doing so doesn’t kill the pests, but it does keep them and their effects under control.
These tiny flying insects feed on plant juices, leaving behind a sticky residue or ‘honeydew,’ which can become a host for sooty mold. Rustle the leaves of infested plants, and clouds of these insects will rise. If you have a serious problem, you may be tempted to reach for a conventional insecticide, but don’t bother, as whiteflies have developed resistance to many.
The best bet is a horticultural oil, which effectively smothers all stages of this insect.
To deal with lower levels, place yellow sticky traps to monitor and suppress infestations.
Hosing down plants can be surprisingly effective, especially if you use a bug-blaster, a hose attachment designed to produce an intense multi-directional spray that easily reaches the undersides of leaves.
Another tactic is to release natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, or whitefly parasites.
If the situation is out of control, insecticidal soaps and botanical insecticides can bring populations down to manageable levels, at which point natural predators can maintain them.
Tomatoes can be stricken by an astonishing array of diseases.
If you’re at all susceptible to anxiety attacks, it will probably be of some comfort to know that disease is generally far less of an issue for back-yard gardeners than for commercial producers. Furthermore, there’s a lot a gardener can do to minimize diseases in vegetable gardens. Give your plants good soil & fertilizer and regular watering; healthy plants are much more likely to resist diseases and other problems.
Keep gardening plots free of weeds and debris where insects can breed and diseases can incubate.
Rotate crops so that soil-borne pathogens never have more than a season to get established.
Clean your gardening tools and equipment, especially at the end of the season, to ensure that they don’t carry over or spread a disease.
Remove unhealthy foliage; pull unhealthy plants to cut down on the spread of fungal spores.
Don’t compost diseased foliage or plants unless you know it is safe to do so.
Don’t use tobacco near tomato plants, to avoid communicating tobacco mosaic virus.
Avoid watering the foliage of your plants, especially in humid climates, as many diseases are encouraged by damp conditions.
The last on that list may be one of the most important. Many plant diseases — verticillium and fusarium wilt, early and late blight, and various leaf spots — are all caused by fungi that prefer damp, cool conditions. Experts generally advise gardeners to water in the morning in part to avoid conditions that encourage fungal growth or molds. Using drip watering systems or soaker hoses keeps leaves dry, again reducing attractive sites for the fungus to get established. Though some of these fungi are airborne, many reside in the soil or in garden debris or weeds related to the tomato. It is important, therefore, to keep weeds and brush piles clear of garden plots. It also helps to keep tomato foliage off the ground and to avoid splashing water up from the ground onto foliage while watering. Mulches help achieve both these objectives.
Caused by any of several viruses, damping off disease is a tomato problem that affects young, seemingly healthy seedlings that suddenly develop a dark lesion at the soil line, then quickly wilt and die. Cool, damp soil, overwatering, and overcrowding all increase probability of infection. Use clean potting soil and germination trays and tools to reduce incidence, avoid crowded seed beds, and monitor watering carefully during the first two weeks after sprouting.
Caused by a soil-borne fungus that targets Solanaceous plants (tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant), fusarium wilt often causes no symptoms until plants are mature and green fruit begins to reach its full size. At that point foliage, sometimes on only one side of the plant, turns yellow, and a sliced stem will show brownish, discolored tissue. Control includes crop rotation, so that the wilt organisms, deprived of a host, will die down in affected soils where it winters. Since cool, damp conditions favor infection, avoid spraying leaves, especially in cool weather. Use resistant varieties.
There are actually several closely related viruses (the tobamoviruses) that cause the wilted, mottled, and underdeveloped fern-like leaves characteristic of the tobacco mosaic virus. All are spread by what are termed mechanical means: something or something that’s been in contact with the virus touches an uninfected plant, and voila — you’ve got an infected plant. Sanitation is therefore of the utmost importance, starting with never smoking near tomato plants, as tobacco can carry the virus. Infected plants should be destroyed. Back-yard plants purchased from a reliable nursery or grown from certified disease-free seed and handled in a tobacco-free environment by only one or two people, are unlikely to develop this disease.
Like fusarium, verticillium is caused by a fungus that, once established in soil, is virtually impossible to remove. Symptoms are almost identical to those caused by fusarium wilt, but are less lethal. The edges of large, older leaves turn yellow, then brown and crumbly, and stems show vascular damage. Unlike fusarium, verticillium wilt affects a wide variety of crops, but lowers yield without killing plants. Again, avoid spreading infected soil and watering foliage, and again, use resistant varieties.
Blossom End Rot
If your ripening fruits develop a dark spot at the lower end, a spot that gradually widens and deepens, you’re looking at blossom-end rot. It’s an environmental problem most often caused by uneven watering or by calcium deficiency. (These can be related; uneven watering can interfere with the uptake of calcium.) The simplest treatment is therefore pre-treatment: make sure soil is rich in all necessary nutrients, including liquid calcium, and water regularly. Mulches also help maintain even moisture levels.
Catfaced tomato plants are deformed to a greater or lesser extent, having deep grooves or indentations running from the blossom end all the way around to the stem. The condition results from cool weather or insect damage while the plant is in blossom. Tomato varieties with large fruit are most susceptible and tomatoes are often rendered inedible — although considered safe to it. To avoid the problem select resistant varieties whenever possible.
Several things can cause cracking in tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, especially small ones, frequently split at the stem end, sometimes all the way to the blossom end, and it does not indicate any sort of disease or problem. The skin of a tomato becomes less resilient as it matures, so the fruit often outgrows the skin. Pick cherry tomatoes just before full ripeness to avoid this.
Circular splitting at the stem end, (concentric cracking) or cracks running towards the stem (radial cracking) usually result from a sudden increase in moisture after a dry spell. Once again, the tomato fruit expands beyond the skin’s ability to adapt. Keep soil evenly moist to avoid this phenomenon.
The tomato’s skin will look bruised or leathery, the skin sunken and puckered. It is essentially what it sounds like, a sun-burn, tomato style, and it occurs when fruit is too exposed during hot weather. This issue primarily affects staked and trellised tomatoes, which are more aggressively pruned than are caged or free tomatoes. To prevent this problem, be sure to leave adequate foliage on plants when pruning. Reusable shade cloth can also be used to protect tender vegetable plants. Once sun scald has occurred, you cannot do anything for affected fruit, but you can provide shade for the unaffected ones.
Tomato is an annual crop that grows in two to three months contingent upon the varieties. In addition, its financial incentive to a farmer, it also has a great nutritive value as it is rich in vitamins C, A and B. This, therefore solves some human health problems, for example, weight reduction, obesity, eye issue, morning sickness as well as constipation. The tomato is also useful for toxic purifying. In this way, on the off chance that you need to yield much from tomatoes, you have to take follow the correct procedure right from the nursery bed, the main garden all through to harvest time. Towards transplanting the following should be done;
Select a site with a good drainage
Make beyond any doubt the past crop that was harvested isn’t of same family as tomatoes to avoid transfer of diseases.
Take soil tests for supplements, soil diseases and pest analysis.
Apply compost to enhance soil fruitfulness.
Maintain great plant spacing to maintain a strategic distance from rivalry and spreading of diseases.
Deep furrow to break hard pans and cups to cover weeds.
Only transplant hardened off seedlings, one may not do well.
How To prepare a nursery bed for tomatoes
Any farmer peering toward a decent reap should know it begins from the nursery bed. You ought to think about the following;
Choose a site with great water drainage and raise the beds or seedlings up in a good way.
Mix the soil with very well decomposed manure
Treat the soil by steaming it.
Avoid over watering.
Use just certified seeds with good germination rate (around 90%).
Plant seeds at a spacing of five to 10 centimeters or one seed for each hole when using trays.
Keep the nursery bed free from weeds
Provide a shade to the nursery bed
A farmer must spray the garden with fundamental fungicide, for example, the creepy crawly pesticides.
Main Factors To Consider Before Investing In Tomato Growing
Tomatoes can yield exceptionally well if taken great care of. A farmer can also make misfortunes on the off chance that he or she neglects to make the best choice for they are exceptionally sensitive. The primary components for tomato developing incorporate;
Tomatoes require profound deep soils
They require moderate rainfall
They require less humid conditions
Tomatoes require moderate temperatures
They require soil PH running between 6.0 to 7.0, that is marginally acidic
Tomatoes require well drained loam soils
Consider capital and information about tomato management in order to dodge related mix-ups.
If the above elements are viewed as then a farmer is prepared to grow tomatoes and profoundly yield from them.
Tomatos being a perishable and highly marketed crop in Uganda has got various challenges during its production. The challenges include pests, diseases and other weather dynamics, below are some of the common diseases.
This is one of the most stubborn diseases that have left most tomato growers disappointed.
It is sometimes caused by bacteria which causes the wilting and eventually death of the growing point and upper leaves. It is a soil born bacteria and has no treatment.
Another type of wilt in tomatoes caused by a virus is known as fusarium solani.
This disease is caused by fungi called alternaria solani and alternata. It is identified by yellowing and scotching of leaves and fruits.
The plant appears burnt and fruits yellow before ripening.
Blossom end rot
This is a physiological infection which attacks tomato fruits due to lack of calcium in a plant.
The lack of calcium in fruits reduces cell membrane permeability hence resulting into swelling of the cells which eventually causes leakage.
It can also be caused by limited root space. This puts a plant at danger of irregular water supply.
Tomato leaf mould
It’s a fungal disease which affects leaves. It’s caused by fungus called passalora fulva. Its attack can be confused with blight.
Greenhouse tomato farming in Kenya has caused a huge increase in tomato production. Most tomato farmers in Kenya exercise small scale greenhouse farming of popular greenhouse tomato types inclusive of Anna F1. You could make easy money in Kenya through greenhouse farming of tomato.
Growing plant life in a greenhouse permits for less complicated implementation of appropriate agronomic practices and decreases tomato production prices. Capsicum and onions are the other crops in Kenya that are generally grown in a greenhouse. With nearly all sorts, greenhouse tomato farming is greater worthwhile than growing tomatoes in an open field.
It is easier to control the temperature in a greenhouse and much less water is used when the suitable irrigation method is used. Most Kenyan farmers use drip irrigation for their greenhouses. Excess nutrients in a tomato farm will lead to immoderate weed boom on the expense of tomato growth, leading to smaller and lighter fruits, and hollow tomatoes that perish quickly.
Farmers are recommended to deliver liquid fertilizers with the drip irrigation kits to keep away from giving their tomatoes extra nutrients. Tomatoes are a popular vegetable and are continually in high demand
It takes a shorter duration — months — for greenhouse-produced tomatoes to mature, while it takes no less than three months with outdoor farming.
Advantages of Green Houses
Due to controlled irrigation and temperatures, the tomatoes sports a continuous output of flowers and fruits, all at different levels.
One plant has a potential of up to 15 kg at the start of the harvest, going as much as 60 kg by the point it has completed its full cycle — recommended at 365 days.
Assuming you have 2000 plants each gives you 60kg per year, that is 120,000 Kgs of tomato. If at the gate you sell at KSh 30, then you can get at least KSh 3, 600, 000 annually. That translates to KSh 120, 000 each month.
The plant vines are supported inside the greenhouse with sticks and strings, developing as much as 5 meters high. If properly looked after, the minimal plot of land under greenhouse production can yield up to 25,000 tonnes of tomatoes.
Tomatoes are usually very vulnerable to diseases requiring heavy application of insecticides but under the greenhouse growing strategies, which come with simple training on hygiene, most of common infections are without difficulty kept at bay. Also stored at bay are bugs and other pests regarded to invade the crop as well as weeds.
Apart from big savings on crop safety chemicals, which constitute a big part of production expenses, much less labor is needed in a greenhouse, whilst exposure to chemical toxins related to application is minimized or eliminated altogether. It is also exact for the environment.