Crop Management (Cultivation conditions and methods)
Tomatoes can be successfully cultivated in a range of soils including sand and even heavy clay, provided that the medium is free of nematodes, wilt disease. The soil must be well drained. The tomato is tolerant to salinity and even a level of 2.5 EC gives good yield.
Tomatoes need warm conditions with average temperature in (21-25) degree centigrade. Damage plants occur if the plant is exposed to low temperatures during growth or if the temperature exceeds 36C for a long period.
Irrigation is used for most tomatoes. Furrow irrigation is commonly used in open field tomatoes.
Drip irrigation is mainly used in greenhouse production. Drip irrigation provides for good water management and allows hand harvesting at regular intervals.
Tomato crops are stressful to soil and fertilizer amounts used must be carefully calculated depending on soil type, soil fertility and environmental conditions. Correct application of fertilizer, especially the nitrogen component determines plant development. For example, too much nitrogen when plants are small results in soft growth, small flower clusters and poor fruit set.
Tomatoes may be harvested at the mature green stage, semi-ripe or fully ripe, depending on market requirements. First pick is usually 2-3 months after sowing and further harvesting is normally every three days.
All harvesting is by hand. Outdoors, in low technology systems, tomatoes are stacked in baskets. Tomatoes cultivated under protection (of higher value) are normally packaged more carefully in cartons.