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Tomato Seedlings for Commercial Farmers

Advantages of Greenhouse Crop Production to Meet the Growth Environment Needs of Tomatoes

Tomatoes, regardless of the variety chosen to grow for commercial farming purposes, are in high demand on the fresh produce markets of South Africa. The plant is considered by many as a superfood because it contains lycopene, which has been reported to help in preventing premature ageing among other health benefits. Many farmers in South Africa now grow tomatoes in greenhouses from tomato seedlings bought from nurseries that specialise in the bulk supply of crop seedlings to commercial farmers.

Several types of cultivars are now available to farmers, who also benefit from receiving the seedlings disease- and pest-free from the nurseries, where the plugs are chemically treated before delivery to the farmers.

Apart from propagating tomatoes for the fresh produce market, many farmers also produce crops for the processing market. However, crops grown specifically for the fresh produce market throughout the year are best propagated in greenhouses where the plants are protected from seedlings to adult stages against environmental factors. Farmers also propagate the plants in greenhouses for delivering throughout the year or for longer periods without being as affected by seasonal factors as when propagating crops in open fields without any protection for the plants.

Below are two of the basic requirements for propagating tomatoes, best done from disease-free seedlings, to ensure crop success. With greenhouse-based crop propagation, many of the requirements can be met throughout the year, as more control over the growth environments is possible.

Climate Needs

Tomato plants are best grown from seedlings in temperatures of 20°C and higher, but not above 35°C as too high temperatures can cause the flowers to shed and thus hinder fruit setting. The fruit quality is severely affected by very cold or hot temperatures. Greenhouse crop production helps with temperature and climate control and thus improves the potential for quality fruits. Where farmers produce tomatoes from seedlings in frost-free growth areas during the winter, it is essential to apply mulching and other means to keep the plants from being exposed to temperatures below 12°C as the plant growth, flowering, and fruiting are negatively affected by very low temperatures.

On the other end of the scale, farmers who want to produce the crop in very hot areas should take note that if grown in temperatures of above 35°C and exposed to very hot winds, flowers will drop fast, regardless of the moisture levels of the soil. If the plants are exposed to ongoing rain and excessively moist conditions for a long time, they become vulnerable to foliage diseases. The crops are best suited for areas that are reasonably dry, but where sufficient water supply is available for controlled irrigation.

Soil Needs

Tomato seedlings should be transplanted to deep, nutrient-rich, and well-drained soil. The plants grow best in sandy loam to clay loam type soils. Sandy soil is still suitable if the farmer is able to keep the moisture content at the right level. Propagation in a greenhouse environment is thus helpful in keeping the moisture content at the desired level.

Where to Get Quality Seedlings

Farmers are invited to get in touch with Hishtil SA to order quality tomato seedlings for delivery to their doorsteps.