It is advisable to plant varieties that have 100% resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus
The tomato is one of the seasonal moneymakers that farmers who need a quick buck should go for.
There are mainly two seasons for growing tomatoes in a year.
However, with irrigation, tomatoes can be grown all year round. Below is how one can prepare a tomato garden.
■ Spacing: 90cmx90cm without staking and 75cmx75cm with staking.
Staking is when small poles are placed near the plants to grow upwards on.
■ Create furrows in rows where the seedlings are to be transplanted.
■ Put manure in the furrows. It can be a teaspoon of NPK.
■ Dig holes for the transplants and incorporate DAP in holes, 5g per hole.
■ Mix the blend with the soil in the hole. Put one seedling per hole Three days from transplanting, drench the root zone of the seedlings with Fertiactyl GZ (100mls of GZ in 20litres). Twenty litres cost sh150,000.
Make the second application of GZ a week after the first application and top dress with 10g of NPK at four weeks from transplanting. Buy fertilizers and pesticides from only certified dealers to avoid fakes.
■ Make the second application after two weeks.
■ If you have irrigation, water the crops at least three days a week, strictly in the morning and evening to prevent evaporation.
Diseases of tomatoes
It is advisable to plant varieties that have 100% resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus (ekigenge).
Common diseases are early and late blight (ekibabuko), powdery and downy mildew and bacterial specks.
■ Avoid the environment that favours fungal diseases, such as stagnant water on the leaves and weeds, which act as hosts. Also, remove diseased leaves that have fallen to the ground.
■ Conduct regular scouting in the garden to check for signs of diseases.
■ Do preventive sprays using Mancozeb and copper-based fungicides. This should be done at least twice a week during the dry season and thrice during the wet season.
■ In case of manifestation of diseases, curative fungicides should be used, such as ridomil, tatamaster or emexyl. They all have the same active ingredients, such as mancozeb and metalaxyl. These can be bought from certified dealers around the country.
Curative fungicides can prevent, cure and eradicate diseases. Mix about 70g of preventative fungicides in 20 litres of water A or 50g of curative fungicide in 20 litres of water.
These are mainly sucking insects, which include mites, thrips, aphids and whiteflies. They suck sap out of the leaves, causing them to lose their photosynthetic potential because of loss of the green colour. Some pests such as thrips feed on the flowers, causing flower abortions.
Regular scouting for pests is a must. Destroy alternative hosts such as weeds in the field Conduct insecticidal sprays. Recommended pesticides include durban, larva, tarfgor, cypermethrin, rocket, fenenvalate, malataf. These cost sh15,000 and above, depending on the quantity.
■ Alternating these pesticides can be more effective in controlling the pests, because sticking to one can bring about resistance.
■ Rocket herbicide works best before flowering.
■ Insecticides should always be used as indicated on the label.
Most tomato varieties are ready for harvest 75 days from transplanting. An acre can produce 40 tonnes to 60 tonnes of tomatoes. With a conservative price of sh1,000 per kilogramme, that makes sh25m.
The harvest goes on for at least three months. Tomatoes are harvested by picking the ripe fruits, which are then stored in a cool environment.
Compiled by Joshua Kato (editor Harvest Money) and Joseph Male, a (vegetable agronomist and best farmer 2019).