Choice of Tomato Varieties
How do you choose the best tomato variety? Which family do tomatoes come from? What are the optimal ecological requirements and how much of it is produced especially in Africa? This article will make you understand all these and much more.
Tomato is a member of the Solanaceae family which includes crops such as Irish Potato, Sweet Pepper, Chilli and Eggplant. It’s one of the most produced and consumed vegetables in Africa and an important cash crop for small holder farmers. Tomatoes are mainly grown in open fields however greenhouse tomato production is gradually growing in popularity. It’s rich in vitamin A, C and Lycopene. They are eaten fresh, added to salads, cooked as a vegetable or processed into tomato paste, sauce and juice.
The recommended altitude for better tomato performance is 0-2000 metres above sea level. Tomato performs well in areas that receive over 600mm of rainfall annually. It should be well distributed throughout the year. When it comes to temperature, tomatoes perform well in warm climatic conditions. The optimal day and night temperature range is 20-25 C and 15-17 C respectively.
Tomato requires well drained sandy, loam and clay soils with a pH range of 6.0 – 7.5.
When choosing a variety, the following should be put into consideration:
It could be determinate, Indeterminate or Semi-determinate.
Determinate varieties grow to a certain height (usually 2 to 3 feet), set the fruit and then concentrate on ripening the fruit.
They are good for cold climate gardeners who need to harvest their whole crop within a couple of weeks.
Tandi F1 is a determinate type.
Indeterminate varieties keep growing taller and taller, setting and ripening the fruit until they’re killed by frost. This kind of variety requires more support from cages and stakes and more attention from the gardener. Indeterminate variety is better if you have plenty of space, prefer to pick your tomatoes over several months and are prepared to provide sturdy support with stakes, cages or ladders.
Tomatoes are more prone to get affected by a number of diseases that can weaken the plant and reduce yields. It’s advisable to look at the seed packet or plant label to see which diseases the variety is resistant to. These diseases will be expounded more in the next vlog. Tandi F1 is resistant to Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus while Nirvana F1 is mostly resistant to Bacterial Wilt. If tomatoes in your region suffer from root-knot nematode or Tobacco Mosaic Virus, look for resistance to these diseases as well. It’s best to identify the type of diseases that mostly affect the farm or the region for proper selection of the variety.
Open Pollinated or Hybrid
Hybrids are a cross between two genetically different varieties that have been selected for certain traits. Hybrid varieties often offer better disease resistance or higher yields even though they are a bit expensive. Worry not, we have hybrid varieties that guarantee 40 tons per acre(Tandi F1).
Open pollinated tomatoes have parents of the same variety. If you save and plant the seed of open-pollinated tomatoes, you will get tomato plants that are like the parent(as long as they are not cross pollinated with other varieties that might be growing nearby).
Timing is important if you have a short growing season. If you are completely relying on natural climatic conditions, planting during the main season which is basically the season in which rains start is necessary. Many varieties require 90 days to mature. Even though that is the case, Tandi F1 takes 55-60 days to mature which is an ideal time if you are looking to get amazing harvests quickly, while Nirvana F1 takes 70-80 days to mature.
The fruit type that you produce should be in accordance with the market requirement as it’s the market that greatly determines which type will sell out. If you’re producing for commercial use, this is an important aspect to put into consideration. For commercial purposes, the fruit should mostly be oval in shape, bulky, meaning that it doesn’t easily go bad and has an intense red colour.
If looking for that type of fruit, Tandi F1, is your best solution. With a very strong plant vigor, elongated blocky and large in size and a fruit weight of 120g-140g.