CULTIVATION STRATEGY FOR
Tomato is the best known vegetable worldwide and also the one with the highest economic value. Spain is one of the main producers of fresh tomato. The demand for this vegetable is continually growing and, as a consequence, so are its crops, production and marketing.
In general terms, the tomato is considered a demanding crop in terms of irrigation, sun and nutrients. In addition, a large number of pests and diseases are associated with it and growing them requires specific care such as trellising or pruning secondary shoots. Therefore, it is a crop that requires a lot of attention, as we will see below in more detail.
» Tomato plantation
When planting tomato plants, it must be guaranteed that the chosen area presents the ideal conditions.
Tomato plants are not very demanding plants in terms of soil, since they have a shallow root system and are capable of adapting to poor soils. However, they prefer deep, well-drained soil rich in organic matter.
Besides, they require constant humidity, especially in summer. However, waterlogging should be avoided since otherwise the roots may rot and the appearance of diseases is favored.
In addition, it is worth mentioning that it is the cultivated species that best tolerates salinity conditions, both in the soil and in the irrigation water. Soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.
The tomato plant is a type of plant that adapts well to a wide variety of climates, but it is very sensitive to frost. These are plants that need plenty of sun.
» Care required by the tomato
Tomato plants are plants that require a lot of care and attention, as we mentioned before, they are demanding vegetables in terms of nutrients, water, sun, etc.
Tomato seeds must be previously sown in seedbeds. The seedbeds begin to prepare in late winter or early spring. The seeds usually take about 5-10 days to germinate, but they will not be ready for transplanting until they have about 3-6 true leaves.
In addition, before transplanting we must make sure that the risks of sudden frosts that could kill our small seedlings have passed.
·Soil conditioning for tomato cultivation
Before planting, the ideal is to carry out adeep tillage of the land and apply a layer of organic matter to the soil, stirring the soil so that it penetrates.
The contribution of nitrogen as a background fertilizer is not recommended since an excess of nitrogen can cause harmful damage to tomatoes. It is only recommended in the case in which the earth has very low levels of this element.
On the contrary, the application of phosphorus is necessary, since it contributes significantly to root development and flowering. In addition, for the fruits to grow properly they also need potassium.
The irrigation of the tomato plants must be abundant and regular. Tomatoes prefer water in the roots, never in the leaves. To ensure that the deeper layers of the soil remain moist, it is best to water deeply and less often, rather than every day for a short period of time. Thus, we will prevent the water from remaining only in the surface layer and evaporating more easily. In addition, it is best to install a drip irrigation system to prevent the appearance of fungi.
Trellising is an essential practice for tomato plants. It serves to keep plants upright and prevent leaves and fruit from touching the ground. In addition, it improves aeration and favors the incidence of sunlight on the plants, thus improving the final production and quality of the fruits.
In tomato plants, a formation pruning is carried out, that is, the lateral stems that are too long, old or sick, etc. are eliminated. In this way, the growth and production of the plant is improved.
·Elimination of suckers
Suckers are small branches that grow at the apex of another branch and are removed in order to concentrate all the energy on the main branch. In this way, these branches are strengthened and tomato production increases.
» Fertilisers for tomato cultivation
Tomato plants need to be fertilized with fertilisers rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Nitrogen is necessary, not in excess, in the early stages of development to promote strong seedling growth, although the highest consumption is shortly before flowering. Potassium is required in larger amounts than nitrogen. The plant also needs phosphorus in the early stages to guarantee the proper development of the roots and flowers.
It is interesting to note that more than 60% of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium absorbed by the plant will be used in the fruit.
Calcium is another element that is needed in relatively large amounts. In fact, sometimes it has the same importance as nitrogen. The consumption of this nutrient takes place from flowering, through the development of the fruit to harvest, so it is necessary to supply it throughout the season. Magnesium is also important, although it is required less than calcium and is mainly absorbed during flowering. Sulfur is needed throughout the growing season.
Regarding micronutrients, boron is significantly involved in the fruit ripening process. It is an essential element for the structural integrity of the plant, the viability of the pollen, the flower and the fruit development. For its part, zincis an important nutrient for the development and function of growth hormones.
To obtain an organic tomato crop, organic matter and mineral remains must be applied regularly and in sufficient quantity, as well as fertilizers and compound fertilizers based on algae and natural substances, in order to ensure good fertility.
Tomatoes can be harvested as soon as they start to turn slightly from green to red.
Depending on the variety, the tomatoes will be harvested:
- Early varieties: at 4-5 months.
- Late varieties: between 8-9 months.