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Name in Indian languages
Khamen Asinba (Manipuri), Bilati Baigana (Oriya), Thakkali (Malayalam), Tomat (Konkani), Bilahi (Assamese), Tamaatar (Hindi/ Punjabi/ Bhojpuri), Tomato/ Tamata (Marathi), Takkali Pazham (Tamil), Tameta (Gujarati), Thakkali Pandu/ Tamata (Telugu), Vartki (Sanskrit), Ruwangum (Kashmiri)
Origin and Distribution
Tomatoes are one of the most popular and widely cultivated vegetables all over the world and their cultivation stretches from hectares of open fields to small kitchen gardens or in individual pots. The variety in their use from fresh and raw to cooked and preserved makes these vegetable a favorite around the world which in turn makes them a commercially-viable crop. It is actually a fruit and due to its diverse culinary uses, it is wrongly perceived as a vegetable.
Tomatoes can trace their origin to the Andes region of South America in the area stretching from Ecuador to Chile where they grew wild, and later cultivated by the Aztecs in Mexico. The early European world was introduced to it in the 16th century with the voyages of explorers in the American soil. This delectable fruit was first called as ‘golden apple’ and later pomme d'amour' in French, 'pomodoro' in Italian and the 'love apple' in English. However, it was believed to be poisonous in the early years as it belonged to the nightshade family. It gained its edibility status only in the 1700’s in Europe, and found a foothold in culinary uses only in the 18th century. Today, it is part of all types of cuisines around the world.
Tomatoes are not only tasty but they are forming an integral part of modern diet due to their nutritional content. They are rich in vitamins, fibre, minerals, antioxidants and also an important anti-carcinogenic red pigment called lycopene. For modern food and diet-conscious population, tomato makes for an ideal choice in daily menu due to their fatless and zero cholesterol content.
Area, Production and Productivity
Tomatoes are cultivated all over the world and India too is not far behind in its cultivation with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Telangana, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal being the major cultivating states. The productivity of tomatoes has grown substantially in India with the production reaching 20.71 MT/ha in 2012-2013 from 19.45 MT/ha in 2010-2011 (Handbook on Horticulture Statistics – 2014, Ministry of Agriculture)
Climate and Seasons
A warm-season crop and being tender, tomatoes cannot withstand frost and harsh climatic conditions. High humidity and hot dry winds also has adverse effect on the plant with increase of foliage diseases and floral drooping respectively. A mean temperature of 20° to 24°C is best for cultivation of tomatoes in Indian climatic conditions. However, with proper irrigation facilities tomatoes can be grown even in semi-arid regions or in protection of greenhouses in cold climates. Good irrigation facilities during the absence of light to medium rain in dry areas can help to grow the perennial tomatoes which is otherwise grown as an annual crop in India.
In India, for autumn-winter crop the seeds of tomato crop may be sown in June –July, Nov – Dec is best for spring-summer crop while in the hilly areas seeds may be sown in March – April.
Light intensity too plays a major role in the yield of quality tomatoes as bright sunshine during fruit-set yields perfect red coloured or deep orange coloured fruits. Being a self-pollinating plant, tomatoes need only wind to pollinate the flowers.
Sandy loam soils and not too rich in organic matter with the soil pH ranging from 6.0-7.0 works well for tomatoes.
- Arka Shresta
- Arka Abhijit
- Round Pusa
- Pusa Hybrid - 4
- Pusa Hybrid -2
- Arka Vikas
- Pusa Early Dwarf
- Pusa Ruby
- Arka Ahuti
- Arka Abha
- Pusa Red Plum
- Solan Gola
- Arka Meghali
- Pusa Gaurav
- Pant Bahar
- Arka Saurabh
- Arka Alok
- Narendra Tomato 1
- Narendra Tomato 2
- HS 102
- HS 110
For cultivation of tomatoes, the land should have undergone enough tillage operations to make it weed-free and bring it to a fine-tilth stage. 2-3 ploughings can make the soil ready for growing tomatoes. Organic matter in the form of manure in the last stage of ploughing and proper soil drainage in the selected field area always helps to ensure production of quality tomatoes.
Seeds are used for propagation or cultivation of tomatoes.
Sowing, Nursery and Transplanting
Tomato seeds need to be first sown in well-prepared nursery beds which may be 60 cm-100 cm in width with suitable and preferred length. Good quality seeds which are well-formed must be used for sowing and diseased or broken seeds should not be used.
300 – 500 gm/ha area.
Preparing a raised nursery bed for sowing tomato seeds is the obvious answer in poorly-drained or low areas, but it also necessitates good irrigation facilities in hot and dry weather conditions. Mulching the nursery bed with green leaves and irrigating the bed daily in the morning using a rose-can should be done until germination of the seeds. The mulch should be removed after the seeds germinate. During adverse weather conditions, to facilitate early seed germination nursery may be set up inside poly houses or green houses.
Direct seeding of tomato seeds into the main field is not a good idea and needs to be avoided for reasons as -
- High cost of hybrid seeds makes direct sowing a risk.
- Specific conditions required for germination are not adequately met in open fields.
- Requires very specially and properly-made field to prevent surface run-off of seeds while irrigating or embedment of seeds in soil depth.
- Depth of the field for sowing seeds and spacing of rows between the plants requires specialized equipment.
- High-quality and well-formed seeds can only yield good results with direct seeding method.
- Weed control becomes difficult in directly sown tomato plants than in transplanted ones.
Seed treatment may be done before sowing them in nursery to prevent seed-borne diseases during seed germination. Following chemicals may be used for effective treatment of tomato seeds:
Tricoderma (4g-10g/ kg of seed)
- Thiram (3g/kg seed)
- Carbendazim (2g/ kg seed)
- B. naphthoxyacetic acid (BNOA) at 25 ppm-50 ppm
Pseudomonas fluorescens (10g/kg seed)
Chemical treatment of seeds should be done 24 hours before showing, the treated seeds should be sown sparsely about 10 cm apart and ½ cm in depth followed by a cover of top-soil or sand.
After 3-6 weeks, the tomato plant with erect and sturdy stem can be transplanted to the main field area or in individual pots. A young plant which does not bear any flowers, fruits or buds before transplant is perfect for transplanting.
Procuring the plant for transplant from commercial nursery establishment is most often a sound decision for Indian farmers after proper inspection of variety, size and quality. An important factor to be kept in mind while purchasing transplants is that container-grown plants should be preferred over plants with no soil or bare roots. The young plants in containers or trays are found to be better adapted to growing in the main fields due to the presence of soil and transplant-growing medium still attached to its roots. They resume growth more quickly and rapid growth following transplantation is a sure sign of good yield.
One of the ways to induce a young plant for transplantation is to use the technique of hardening off which involves decreasing the water availability in the nursery beds. This process slows the plant growth before its transplant which in turn helps in adapting to the less-favorable conditions of the outside field.
The plants grown in containers must be transplanted in the main field area immediately after removing the plastic or after it has been pulled off from the nursery bed. The roots of the plant should not dry off before transplanting and if it is necessary to hold off transplanting for some time, then the plants should be kept in a cool place. The plant should be set 3 - 4 inches deep into the soil with the root completely covered with soil. Depending upon the irrigation facilities available, the tomato plants may be grown in levelled lands or shallow trenches. Bamboo sticks driven about 10-12 inches into the ground should be used as stakes for the transplanted plant, which is being slowly and steadily replaced by ‘rope staking’ in some parts of India to lessen the dependence on bamboos for large scale cultivation.
Spacing of the transplanted tomato plant is one of the main factor affecting the fruit yield as adequate space should be there for proper growth of each plant. Spacing of 60 -70 cm is suitable for most fields in India. But the plant characteristics of that particular variety should be kept in mind while deciding the spacing distance transplanting as the maturity size, nature of growth and nutrient requirement may be different from other varieties.
Tomato crop can be intercropped with other crops like pulses, grain, oilseeds and cereals. Intercropping of tomato-radish or tomato-palak works well for most farmers in India. The most important point to be remembered while considering crop rotation of tomato is that non-solanaceae crops should be used to garner the most benefits of crop rotation.
The tomato plants need adequate water for their growth and an even moisture content is an important pre-requisite. Water requirement is critical in the stages of transplanting, flower formation and fruit development. Irrigation may be given twice a day on the seedbed with a rose-can or zari until germination, and again started soon after the seedlings get transplanted at an interval of 4 -7 days in summer, while in winter the crops should be irrigated every 8- 12 days. An important aspect of irrigation is that the moisture content of the soil, soil type and climatic conditions should be borne in mind while irrigating the crop.
Drip irrigation is one of the best methods that may be used by tomato growers in India as it saves a lot of water and is also suitable for soils retaining less water.
- Farm yard manure (FYM) of about 25 ton/ha should be used during the preparation of land with the N: P: K dose contained as 75: 100: 100 kg/ha
- Borax (10kg/ha) and Zinc sulphate (50kh/ha) may also be used in the basal dose preparations.
- 75 kg/ha of Nitrogen may be used as top dressing after 30 days of planting.
- Generally, the fertigation dose for tomato crop is 200: 250: 250 kg/ha of N, P and K.
- Growth regulators like Triacontanol 1.25 ppm (625 ml in 500 litres of water) may be sprayed 15 days after transplantation at the full bloom stage to increase the yield.
- Weeds should be hand-weeded about 30 days after transplantation.
- Hoeing also helps to control weed growth along with loosening the soil which may be hard or too dry.
- Pendimethalin 1.0 kg a.i/ha or Fluchloralin 1.0 kg a.i /ha as pre-emergence herbicide is effective for controlling weeds.
- Black polythene and straw when used as mulch helps to retain moisture of the soil thereby controlling weeds.
Pests, Diseases and Disorders
Nowadays organic food and crops grown using organically without the use of harmful chemicals are in much demand in the market with the price of organic tomatoes fetching 20-30% more than the conventional ones.
- Organic farming of tomatoes for self-consumption should always be based on the nutrient content of that particular variety, while for commercial production of tomatoes the choice should be based on the resistance of the variety to pests and diseases and by market demand.
- Only organic matter should be used like compost, farmyard manure and poultry litter to enrich the nutrient content of the soil.
- Crop rotation should be done with non-solanacea crops only.
- Rotating the cultivation of tomatoes in the same field with legumes once every few years is an effective way to retain Nitrogen content in the soil.
- Regular crop rotation and cultivation of trap crops like marigold and sweetcorn helps to keep a check on the menace of pests.
- Weeds may be controlled by using mulches, tilling, shallow sanitation or by regular hoeing.
Weeding hook, Spade and tooth-hoe are the main implements useful for cultivation of tomatoes.
Harvesting and Yield
Fully matured tomatoes should be harvested and the time of harvest should be fixed keeping in mind the distance of the market place or mandi to where it is to be transported. Also the variety of the crop and the purpose of harvest too should be taken into consideration as fully matured green tomatoes before the colour changes happens are most suitable for long-distance transport, while fully ripe tomatoes with bright red colour should be used for making ketchups, sauce or for canning.
Size is not much of an important factor of quality when it comes to harvesting of tomatoes as size is mostly dependent on the variety of that particular crop. But appearance can be a significant factor to be considered while harvesting the fruits.
A good quality tomato fruit should have –
- A smooth wax-glossy look.
- Uniform colour and size with the other fruits of the same variety.
- The ripeness or level of maturity should be uniform all over.
- No growth crack, sunscald, mechanical injury, hail damage, catfacing or surface bruise.
- Blossom-end and stem-end scars are smooth.
Depending on the variety and season, tomato crops in an open field yields about 20-24 MT/ha in India. A good yield of the tomato crop depends on a number of factors like soil type, irrigation and importantly the variety of the crop.
- 30-40 MT/ha for local varieties.
- 80-95 MT/ha for hybrids.
Cost of Cultivation
For an area of 1 ha with 75cm x 60cm planting geometry -
- Cultivation cost: ₹ 11,050 with expected yield of 75MT/ha
- Drip system cost: ₹ 75,263 (At 10.5% interest)
- Drip system cost (annually): ₹ 10,822
- Life expectancy of drip system: 7.5 years
- Expected benefit and cost ratio of the crop: 6:5
Being a perishable crop, tomatoes after harvest necessitates the transfer to main market area for consumption or for export to other countries. Supply of the tomato crop to big cities and other food processing establishments may bring a handsome return to the farmers of India instead of selling it to the local markets. However, supply to the big retail markets in metro cities of India directly from the field area may involve additional costs of labour or equipment as their size, variety or quality specifications must be met.
Post Harvest Management
In India, harvesting of tomatoes are mostly done by hand only whereby the visibly matured or ripe tomatoes are plucked from the plant. These method allows for selective and disease-free picking of the fruit and is suitable for Indian conditions.
- Baskets may be used for temporary storage during plucking time in the fields and in most villages big baskets of bamboo are still used for ferrying tomatoes to the market.
- After plucking from the plant, it is necessary that the fruit is not allowed to get any heat which may result in early spoilage. Keeping in storage facilities under controlled temperature is the answer for long storage.
- For long distance transport, it is best to pluck the fruit when they are fully matured and still green and not when the colour changes starts.
- Quality and the size of the fruits are to be maintained for specialized supermarkets in cities and also for export. Specifications by the importing country or of the market is an important factor for changing the post-harvest technology in different areas.