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Stephen Wedaba is a remarkable farmer with PlantVillage diversifying in Cassava, sweet potatoes and tomatoes in Nambomboto, Busia County. Wedaba makes a fortune from tomato farming in his ¾ acre field. Despite low rainfall in his region, he does hand watering to his tomatoes to ensure the plants get adequate water supply. From an interview with him, this is what you need to know about tomato farming.
Conditions for tomato growing
Tomatoes thrive in well-drained sandy loamy soil. Gently sloping land is best as it allows drainage during rainy season.
Also, avoid growing tomatoes immediately in a field that previously had potatoes to minimize the risk of diseases.
For commercial purpose, plant hybrid or F1 series that has high yields and ability to withstand harsh conditions and attack from pest and diseases. Varieties such as Roma and CAL J grows well in warm climate.
Ensure the seeds you buy has high germination rate of above 90%
Select an open place with enough sunlight exposure for your nursery. Prepare the soil into a fine tilth by raising the soil around 15cm high. Sow the seed in depth of around 1cm. To increase moisture level, use mulch on the seedbed. Watering should be done for 6-8 days until the seeds sprout.
Apply a preventive fungicide mixed with an insecticide when the nursery is about 1 week old. At 2 weeks, give a dose of fertilizer rich in nitrogen to boost vigor.
At 3 weeks, harden off the seedlings by reducing the watering process. It takes about a month before transplanting is required.
Water your nursery bed thoroughly before transplanting for ease of uprooting the seedling and to minimize shock. Prepare land by digging a hole 1ft wide and 1ft deep and put 2 handful of organic fertilizer. Transplant after 5 days.
Plant the seedlings at a spacing of 60 by 60cm.
Apply NPK fertilizer one month after transplanting for root development, cover with light soil and water such that it can be dissolved in the soil.
Flowers comes between 2-3 weeks after transplanting. Apply foliar fertilizers such as Easy Grow to boost vegetative growth.
Plants start fruiting at 2 weeks after flowers emerge. Once the plant start flowering, apply fertilizers rich in potassium to prevent shedding of flowers and to enhance fruiting. Continue with potassium fertilizers till harvest.
To increase productivity of tomatoes, tie the tomatoes plant vertically using strings and poles. Connect two poles using a wire and suspend the plants using strings.
Prune the lower yellow leaves that wilt when the plant begins to mature. Also prune side shoots and old leaves.
Weed regularly to avoid competition for nutrients.
Pest and diseases
Most common diseases for tomatoes are blight, blossom end rot and bacterial wilt. Spray with fungicides such as Ridomil and insecticides such as Duduthrin and Karate to control pest.
Plant certified seeds to control bacterial wilt.
Tomatoes should be ready for harvesting from in 70 days depending on variety planted.
Written By;Mercyline Tata