Tree tomato Fruit can be red or yellow; personally, I prefer the tangy red ones. The plants grow from seed to about 2m tall, long and leggy, and only fruit after they have formed several branches, usually after Year 2.
They only live for about 12 years, so always have a few young ones coming on to replace the old ones;
Tip cuttings will fruit sooner, and tend to produce a stronger, more compact bush;
In coastal and windy areas, it pays to shelter the trees, and cover them during a frost;
Don’t put them in your greenhouse; they grow better outside away from whitefly which covers them like snow otherwise;
Feed them like a tomato, with plenty of nitrogen and trace elements;
Pruning increases fruit size, so in summer trim some of those leggy growing branch ends back by 60cm.
Combine it all and you can harvest up to 20kg per plant – we have had a crate box full off one tree.
Two Deadly Enemies of Your Tree Tomato
Nematodes are tree-tomatoes worst enemy, they survive by feeding directly off the nutrients pumped through tree-tomatoes roots. They form galls that can reach up to an inch wide where they hide and reproduce, causing many symptoms that point to problems in infected plants’ transport systems. Yellowing plants, stunted growth and general decline are early symptoms, but unless your bed is heavily infected with nematodes, a large tree-tomato planting will only show these symptoms in a relative few plants. They typically appear in soils where tree-tomatoes and other root knot nematode host plants have been grown in the last three to five years, and populations increase the longer an area is used. If you suspect your tree-tomatoes plants have nematodes, start by digging up a particularly weak plant. Roots that have a lot of unusual knobby growths are infected with these parasites.
WHY SMALL-SCALE FARMERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO GROW FRUITS AND NUTS
Growing fruits and nuts provides a wide opportunity for kenyan poor families to enhance their incomes as well as improving the nutrition of the poor who currently suffer from deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients because of low
consumption of these foods.
Source Of Vitamins
According to World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), many fruits are, for example, important sources of vitamins A and C that are lacking in the diets of many Africans. Low intake of vitamin A – around 50 million African children are at risk of deficiency – is considered to be Africa’s third greatest public health problem after HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Vitamin C, on the other hand, is essential for protecting cells and keeping the body healthy and also absorbing iron from food. Vitamin C is an important mineral that is present in significant quantities in many fruits. Common fruits include HASS Avocado, Grafted Tree tomatoes, oranges, mangoes, grapes, tangerines e.t.c. Nuts on the other hand include MACADAMIA nuts, groundnuts, cashew nuts, e.t.c.
Impact of Fruits and Nuts Farming
Action on improving fruit and nut availability and quality, when coordinated, is likely to have a major positive impact on the health of African consumers and increase income generation.
If farmers receive good incomes from cultivating high quality fruits and nuts, that consumers can afford and are informed about the benefits of eating them, a strong domestic production sector can develop in Kenya.
The cultivation of fruits and nuts by smallholders to feed local markets and support of export markets presents a tremendous opportunity for investment, especially if the indigenous species that are recognized and valued by domestic consumers are considered as well as exotic ones. At present, about 80% of the total market value of fruit and nut crops is earned locally in Kenya, and this market is likely to grow further in the coming decade.
Source of Income
The total value of all traded production was estimated to be 650 million USD in Kenya in 2007, of which around 85% was contributed by fruits and 15% by nuts. Many fruit and nut species are rare assets in that they can be established on farms with a very modest initial investment and their value increases with time and is maintained over many years, continuing to contribute to family livelihoods and to bringing women, men and children out of poverty in a sustainable way.
By conserving these genetic resources in farmland – of indigenous species that are threatened in the natural landscape as forests recede, and of locally adapted exotic species – they are also made available to future generations, so that their livelihoods and health can also benefit.
Moreover, fruit and nut production is not amenable to much mechanization and is therefore labor-intensive, and thus plays to one of the key strengths of smallholders, which is their low labor cost, enabling them to compete with larger farmers.
Production of Fruits and Nuts
Although the potential for improving fruit and nut production to improve incomes for small-scale farmers in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa is evident, smallholders face a number of bottlenecks in the cultivation and sale of produce. These include production constraints, such as limited species and variety development, inefficient delivery systems for delivering superior cultivars to farmers, and poor farm management practices,
With smallholders being unaware of better propagation, pest management and irrigation methods to improve quality, increase productivity and profits. In addition, farmers face market constraints, such as poor post-harvest practices that reduce sale ability, poor market delivery systems, lack of knowledge about the species and varieties for which markets are available, and lack of awareness among consumers of the health benefits of eating fruits and nuts.
Kenya has a very big market potential, since in most parts of Kenya, fruits are available throughout the year. This is a very long period and can be utilized to beat the export market. The major challenges facing the fruit marketing in Kenya are the competition from other producers such as South Africa and Israel; these can only be addressed by improving the quality of the fruits produced.
NB! If you need to grow tree fruits, Macadamia nuts or tissue banana, kindly visit our offices or contact us.
Grafted Tree tomato is a fast-growing tree that grows up to 2-5 meters. The tree usually forms a single upright trunk with lateral branches. We graft our tree with ‘muthakwa’ for several reasons.
Resistant to Nematodes.
Higher life span.
CLIMATE, SOIL REQUIREMENT & GROWTH
The tree tomato prefers subtropical climate, they grow in many parts of Kenya with rainfall between 600 and 4000 millimeters and annual temperatures between 15 and 25 °C. It is intolerant to frost (below -2 °C) and drought stress. Tree tomato plants grow best in light, deep, fertile soils, however, soils must be permeable since the plants are not tolerant to water-logging. They grow well on soils with a pH of 5 to 7.5.
Land, Manure, Grafted seedlings, Irrigation system, Labour, Pest and Diseases control,
At a good spacing an acre can accommodate 1200 – 1500 plants.
Require a recommended spacing measuring 6ft by 6ft, then dig dip holes measuring 2ft by 2ft this helps in roots penetration and also to be able to accommodate enough manure.
Add a bucket of well rotten manure into per hole and mix well with top soil.
Plant your grafted seedlings by first ensuring you have watered your soil well or plant during rainy season. Add mulching to every stem of your plants.
In case of a dry season apply irrigation either drip irrigation or bucket irrigation.
For those that need to grow organically consult your agronomist about organic farming.
For conventional farming apply NPK fertilizer after two weeks of planting this will ensure faster growth and root development.
Protect you plant from pest and diseases from early stages by splaying at a good interval depending with the rate of infestation with pesticides and fungicides both protective and curing ones.
During entire growth season apply CAN fertilizer three times.
Splay your plants with foliar feed to ensure faster and stronger plants and also during flowering to boost more flowers and ensure they do not drop.
PEST AND DISEASES
Tree tomato is fairly resistant to most diseases and pests. However, the tree is prone to powdery mildew, which causes the leaves to fall off. Application of copper oxychloride (allowed in organic farming) can control the disease. The main pests that attack the tree include the aphids, thrips, whiteflies and nematodes (grafted tree tomato is best in control of nematodes).
We buy all the fruits from our Farmers both for export (organically grown) and for local market and for value addition. We have never satisfied even a fraction of the local market. Our main buyers for local market are Super markets, Marigiti and Githurai in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret. We buy from all comers of our country.
COST AND RETURNS ESTIMATES OF PLANTING TREE TOMATO IN ONE ACRE LAND
PLANT POPULATION 1200 PLANTS
Preparation of land (digging ,fallowing) to attain fine tillage
Buying of seedlings from reputable dealers @100 each
Digging of holes 2ft by 2ft @10 each
Buying and application of manure per hole @30 per bucket
Planting, mulching of seedlings
Fertilizer for the entire season
Chemicals for the entire season
Water expenses (for irrigation)
Management and miscellaneous.
Expected average output 20-50kg per tree Ksh @80 for the first one year
Unit Cost and return of growing grafted tree tomato.
One of the best investment we have ever done is Farming tree tomato, it was not a smooth journey to master this type of farming, and we encountered failures like not planting the hybrid varieties, and also planting non grafted plants that survived only for one season then withered. Our success story have lead us to be featured in local TV and Radio programs also in Newspapers. We came to a conclusion that we needed to ensure the success of our farmers interested in commercial tree tomato farming. We ensure we remove barriers that hinder successful tree tomato farming like enlightening our customers on.
Type of manure to use.
Why and how to use drip system in your farm.
How to control pest and diseases.
Management of the farm.
Management of the farms.
We do visit farms in any part of Kenya to advice farmers on what’s suitable on their farms depending on their area. Apart from tree tomato we grow other types of fruit trees like passion fruits, Hass avocado, Macadamia, Oranges, Apples etc. We also do manage the farms on behalf of our customers. We deliver seedlings and fruits in any part of the country. Contact us and be part of the community that believe money grows on trees.
Watch the following video on tree tomato farming (Kikuyu version)