Selecting the area for growing tomatoes
Suitable tomato growing areas
Before planting tomatoes, important factors such as should Location for planting, The previous crop planted, Topology, Type of soil e.t.c needs to be considered. This chapter discusses all the Ecological Requirements you need for successful tomatoes cultivation.
Although plant size and fruit size, color, taste, and texture varies among the different cultivars, each one requires similar growing conditions and care to thrive and produce an abundant crop. Tomato plants grow readily in most climates.
Before planting tomatoes, the following factors should be considered:-
Location for planting
Water proximity should be as close as possible to the planting field to avoid added costs of pumping water. Although water tanks can be used and this is specifically suitable when using a drip-irrigation system.
The previous crop planted
Tomatoes should not be planted immediately after potatoes or pepper and a 3-month break should be observed. This is to minimize on risk of diseases and reduce costs on disease management.
Gently sloping land is best as it facilitates drainage during rainy periods, especially for open-air methods.
The soil should be deep well-drained loam. The soil should be prepared well and loosened and broken down well. The optimal pH for tomatoes is around 6-7.5. Soil analysis can be done to determine this and help you come up with the list of required fertilizer to prepare the land. If the pH is low, lime can be used to raise it and if high, gypsum can be used to lower it.
Tomato grows well on most mineral soils that have proper water holding capacity and aeration, and are free of salt. It prefers deep, well-drained, sandy loam soils. The upper layer needs to be permeable.
Soil depth of 15 to 20 cm is needed to grow a healthy crop. In heavy clay soils, deep ploughing allows better root penetration.
Tomato is moderately tolerant to a wide range of pH (level of acidity) but grows well in soils with a pH of 5.5 – 6.8 with adequate nutrient supply and availability. The addition of organic matter is, in general, favorable for good growth. Soils with very high organic matter content, like peat soils, are less suitable due to their high water holding capacity and nutrient deficiencies.
Temperature and light
Tomato requires a relatively cool, dry climate for high yield and premium quality. However, it is adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions from temperate to hot and humid tropical. The optimum temperature for most varieties lies between 21 and 24 °C.
The plants can survive a range of temperatures, but the plant tissues are damaged below 10 °C and above 38 °C.
Tomato plants react to temperature variation during the growth cycle, for seed germination, seedling growth, flower and fruit set, and fruit quality. If cool or hot weather spells persist during flowering, pollen production will be lower. This will influence fruit formation.
Light intensity affects the colour of the leaves, fruit set, and fruit colour.
Water and humidity
A simple rule of thumb can be used to determine whether local water supplies are sufficient for growing tomato. If there are herbaceous plants (plants with many thin leaves) growing in the natural environment, it will be possible to grow tomatoes. You should be able to count on at least three months of rain.
Water stress and long dry periods will cause buds and flowers to drop off, and the fruits to split. However, if rains are too heavy and humidity is too high, the growth of mould will increase and the fruit will rot.
Cloudy skies will slow down the ripening of tomatoes. However, adapted cultivars are available. Seed companies have special tomato varieties for hot-humid climates
Source: Tomato farming by Timothy Angwenyi