Tomato Farming in Kenya
Every farmer looks for tricks to better tomato farming in Kenya. Most Kenyan farmers started with tomato farms having been told of the huge profits in the market. The truth sometimes is hard to bear as a lot of us, small scale farmers have lost fortunes in tomato farming Kenya.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Ecological Requirements
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 the risk of diseases and reduce costs on disease management.
Topology:- Gently sloping land is best as it facilitates drainage during rainy periods, especially for the open-air method.
Soil:- 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 Farming in Kenya – Tomato Varieties
The following hybrid tomatoes are available in Kenya:-
- Shanty F-1 Improved- For Open Field Production
- Galilea F-1 Improved- For Open Field Production
- Corazon F-1 (Oval Shape)– For Greenhouse Production
- Eva F-1 (Oval Shape)- For Greenhouse Production
- Yaara (Round Shape)- For Greenhouse Production
The advantages of the above hybrid varieties compared to non-hybrid are:-
- Extended Shelf life
- Fruit uniformity
- High yield
- Disease resistance
- Heat Resistance
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Nursery Preparation
The nursery is prepared by raising soil around 15cm high and leaving spaces for walkways of around 30cm or more between beds.
- The soil should be fine and made up of small particles.
- This is to make it easier for the small seeds of tomatoes to breakthrough.
- The seeds should not be buried deep into the soil but planted at a depth of around 1cm.
- The tomato seeds should be covered just slightly with soil.
- Spacing between rows should be around 15cm.
- To increase moisture level, mulch is to be added on the seedbed.
- This also reduces the splash effect during watering.
- Watering is best done in the morning and the seeds are expected to start showing/sprouting in around 8days.
- The watering should continue until a week or two before transplanting where it is reduced to harden off the seedlings.
it takes about a month before transplanting is required.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Land Preparation
The field is plowed to a fine tilth by giving one to two plowing. Consideration should be made on the mode used and the type of irrigation.
- Furrows are then opened in the recommended spacing.
- Seedlings are transplanted in furrows in light soils and on side of the ridges in case of heavy soils.
- Pre-Soaking irrigation is given 2 days prior to transplanting.
- Transplanting should preferably be done in the evening, starter fertilizer required during transplanting as a basal application.
- Once transplanted, immediate irrigation required as well as a control for early pests.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Transplanting
The nursery is watered thoroughly before transplanting for ease of uprooting the seedlings. Transplanting is done using a garden trowel. It is good practice to ensure that the roots carry a ball of soil during transplanting to increase the success rate after transplanting. It should be done early in the morning or in the evening.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Planting
The seedlings are then planted in holes with a spacing of around 60 by 45
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Fertilizer Application
phosphate fertilizer is applied at the base for root development and urea or CAN used for leaf development after transplanting. Urea is applied at 2-3 weeks or CAN after 5 weeks. At the start of flowering, top dress with NPK and this can be repeated after the first harvest. Remember that fertilization is done to compensate for soil deficiency.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Watering
It is important to ensure that the plants get adequate water supply. Excessive watering is however not good for the plants as it may cause leaching of nutrients.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Tomato Staking
Staking is recommended for better growth, increased fruit-bearing & improved fruit quality
- Staking also helps to ease cultural operations like spraying, weeding, fertilizer application, earthing up & picking
- Sowing time: as per regional practices & suitable varieties
- Seedlings are transplanted on side of the ridges
- Transplant healthy & stout seedlings with the well-developed root system
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Pruning
Pruning should be carried out on side shoots, old leaves, diseased leaves, and laterals. This should be done weekly to remove side shoots before they develop. Remove suckers that grow on the joint between two branches. These suckers will never bear fruit but only take away energy from the plant. This can also be done on the other parts of the plant but be cautious not to remove productive parts.
As the plant begins to mature, the lower leaves will naturally begin to yellow and wilt. This is perfectly normal, so pull these from the plant when they appear. It will keep the plant fresh, looking good, and help ward off disease.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Weeding
The crop stand should be kept free of weeds at all times because weeds compete for nutrients and are also vectors for disease. Hand weeding is recommended both for the greenhouse and outdoor tomatoes.
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Pest and Diseases
Is the larval stage of a moth that may be brown, green or pink in color? It is the most destructive stage of the moth and attacks the fruits of tomatoes. It lays several eggs on young fruits that bear holes on the fruits upon them hatching. The worm feeds with its head inside the tomato fruit.
Other minor tomato pests include:- cutworm, red spider, mite, and nematodes.
Spraying the tomatoes can be the best alternative for the control measures. A good insecticide should be used in the process.
It is a major fungal disease caused by Phytophthora infestans. It is the most serious of tomato diseases. Dry brown lesions on stems, leaves, and fruits are some of the symptoms of attack by the crop. Fungal spores germinate when there is moisture in the leaves and fruits.
Tomato plants that are attacked by this parasite will eventually wither and die when the weather conditions of a particular place. Certified seeds are used in the control of the pest.
Blossom end rot
Manifested in the roots where the blossom ends appear rotten and water-soaked plants. Regular watering ensures that the product does well in places with plenty of supply.
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Tomato Farming in Kenya – Pest and Diseases
Pests and diseases remain the greatest challenge in Tomato production. Appropriate and timely management makes all the difference between good production, poor production
or total crop failure. Proper identification of the pest and disease is critical in a control strategy. The general principles in pests and disease management include;
- Planting resistant /tolerant varieties – Use certified disease-free seed treated with an approved fungicide to control seed rots and post-emergence damping off.
- Field hygiene-old crops should be removed from the fields, control weeds, and crop debris since these are a source of pests and diseases. Staking and pruning are also key to disease incidence reduction
- Using proper crop production practices that provide the right growing conditions for plants (sufficient water and balanced fertilization), particularly when crops are young. Strong healthy plants are more likely to withstand pests and diseases.
- Irrigation management; poor irrigation timing and scheduling may lead to disease, Overhead irrigation in the evenings can encourage early blight.
- Ensure regular crop scouting for pest and disease as well as weed and nutrient deficiencies. Proper pest and diseases identification is the first and critical step in their man
Tomato Farming in Kenya – Harvesting
The tomatoes should be ready for harvesting as from the 70th day onwards depending on the variety planted.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tomato Farming in Kenya
How many tomato plants can you have per acre?
About 5,000 tomato plants are required to meet this number.
Is tomato farming profitable in Kenya?
Tomato farming in Kenya is such a profitable business idea. they grow very fast. Most tomato varieties in Kenya such as the Anna F1 reach maturity 60-75 days after transplanting. A well grown tomato fruit can weigh more than 150 grams and give a yield of more than 30 tonnes per acre.
What is the best season for tomatoes?
They’re in season from May through October, with some variation depending on where you live. You may have only tasted red tomatoes, but these guys also come in yellow, orange, green, pink and purple.
How many tomatoes can one plant yield?
Many people who grow tomatoes ask “How Many Tomatoes Per Plant can I get?” Most produce on average about 10 pounds of tomatoes per plant. However, according to LDSprepper by following a few tips which include getting the right tomatoes for your area you can harvest 50 to 80 pounds per plant.
How long does Tomatoes take to mature?
Tomatoes take 20 to 30 days to reach maturity from the time they first appear, so expect your tomato plants to begin producing fruits 40 to 50 days after planting them in the ground.
How do you increase fruit size in tomatoes?
Maintaining a leaf area index of 3 will maximize fruit growth. Hand thinning of tomatoes on the end of a truss ensures more evenly sized larger fruit. The use of growth regulators such as auxins at anthesis can stimulate fruit sets, and increase fruit size especially under low light and low-temperature conditions.
How much water does tomato plant need per day?
Tomato plants prefer deep irrigation that occurs semi-regularly rather than light, daily irrigation. As a general rule of thumb, tomato plants require 1 to 2 inches of water each week, but a more accurate measurement is 1 inch of water, or 1 gallon of water, every 5 days.
How much fertilizer do tomatoes need?
Balanced fertilizers, or those with a nutrient ratio of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10, supply equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, along with trace minerals the plants need. Work 1/2 cup of fertilizer into the bed for each tomato you are planting.
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