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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 Conditions

  Tomatoes 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 Conditions

  Soil 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:  
  • Compaction
  • pH
  • Drainage
  • 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
  Tomatoes can grow deep root systems and it is thus important to ensure the soil nutrients are available at the root levels. For this reason, deep soil preparation is essential for optimal yields. Sufficient spreading of oxygen throughout the soil and around the roots will help to improve crop success. Any toxic substances in the soil will affect crop success.   It is recommended to add organic matter to the soil, as this will significantly improve the quality of the yield. Optimal nutrition helps with root forming, which takes place before the plant develops fruits. Though deep rooting takes place, most of the tomato roots are found in the upper part of the soil. Therefore, soil preparation should include the loosening of the upper part of the growth area as well. Loosening soil helps to give aeration. Soil preparation must be done for at least 60 cm deep, but deeper preparation will also be beneficial for the deeper roots.   The type of soil plays a role in water-retention capacity. With sandy soil, the issue is to increase water retention capacity. Sandy soil tends to erode while with heavier soils, the issue of crust formation should be addressed. Ridge planting has been recommended to help with water drainage and oxygen supply to the roots.  

Planting Time

  The time for planting and growing depends on the area. Also, the farmer should keep in mind that planting guidelines are usually for germination from seed. For the best time to transplant tomato seedlings according to their variety and the area in which to propagate, consult with the Hishtil SA agronomists.  

Where to Buy

  Quality stock, optimum soil conditions, proper soil preparation, climate needs, and spacing requirements all play a role in crop success. Farmers can get more information about the varieties and prices of tomato seedlings from Hishtil SA in addition to guidelines for transplanting the plugs. The bulk supply nursery offers technical support and delivers the disease-free seedlings to farmers across the country. View the range of available products here. Tomato Seedlings For Sale - Commercial Seedlings   Sources: