Tomato Seedlings: What Every New Farmer Should Know
Growing tomato crops from quality seedlings can be a profitable farming project. However, as with any vegetable crop farming venture, it is essential to ensure the specific plant growth environment requirements are met. To this end, it pays to do a bit of upfront research. Farmers interested in growing tomatoes from seedlings can start with the tips and basic information provided in this article.
Best Climate ConditionsTomatoes can handle a wide range of temperatures. To determine which variety is best for a particular climate, consult with the agronomists of Hishtil SA. As a general guideline, these vegetables perform best in a temperature range between 20°C and 27°C. They do not perform well in temperatures of 9°C and below. Temperatures over 30°C can be fatal for the crops. Although many farmers in South Africa grow tomatoes from seedlings in the open field, they do so in areas where the climate and temperatures are suitable. In areas where extreme temperature fluctuations are experienced, it is better to grow in greenhouse facilities where temperature, humidity, and pests can be controlled. Frost damage is likely when the plants are exposed to temperatures of 0°C, while terminal damage can be expected when the plants are exposed to temperatures below -1°C. Grafted tomato seedlings are reported to have better frost tolerance than the ungrafted types. If growing the plants in an area is likely to receive frost, it is worth considering crop growing from grafted plugs. The temperature requirements also differ according to the growth stage of the plant. During vegetation, the best range is between 20°C and 25°C, while the optimum range is between 13°C and 18°C at night, with temperatures between 18°C and 25°C during the day for fruit setting.
Optimum Soil ConditionsSoil nutrient levels, the type of soil, and pH affect the fruit quality of these crops. To achieve crop success, disease-free plants, and superior-quality fruits, the farmer should start with premium-quality seedlings, suitable for the particular soil type. In addition, care must be given to ensure optimal soil fertility. Soil factors to consider include:
- Water-holding capacity
- Nutrient level
- Depth of the soil
- Soil-borne pathogens present
- Whether or not crop rotation has been applied
- Residue from herbicides in the soil