How do you start a tomato farm?
Have you ever asked the question, how do you start a tomato farm? If yes, you are in the right place to know how to start a tomato farm in Nigeria.
Having a tomato farm is desirable for a lot of people; however, most starters in agriculture seem confused on how to start a tomato farm.
A tomato farm is simply a farm where tomato plants are cultivated. It can be a garden, an orchard or an acreage.
Steps to take to start a tomato farm
The following are the steps to take to start a tomato farm in Nigeria:
Seek for Knowledge and Acquire Skills
Tomato farming has changed considerably in the past few years. Now, it is better if you practice precision farming if you want to grow tomato.
Do not rely on the old traditional ways of growing tomato. You need to acquire skills in agronomy, irrigation management and the use of precision farming tools.
However, if you do not have these skills, you are advised to hire those who possess the skills.
Get a Suitable Farm Location
If you want to start a successful tomato farm, you will be required to get a suitable location for the farm.
There should be a motorable road to your farm for easy evacuation of the produce. The farm location should also have suitable soil, climate and other growing conditions. You do not want to have a tomato farm in a waterlogged area.
Hire Staff with the Right Skills Set
If you want to start a big tomato farm, you may need to hire workers. The people you hire can make or mar your tomato farm.
It is always better if you hire those with skills in tomato farming. These skills should be in the science and art of farming, irrigation management, pests and disease management and general farm administration.
Sort out Water and Power Issue
You may want to grow your tomato in the dry season, in this case you will need water for irrigation, drip irrigation is always better. A borehole, well, river or dam can serve as your source of water.
You may also need power for your tomato farm. Power can be supplied from the public grid or from a power generating set.
Prepare the Land
Land preparation is important if you want to have a successful tomato farm.
You need to remove the weeds, stumps and some trees from your farmland. You may also need to plow, harrow and ridge the farmland.
Manure and fertilizers may be added to the soil as part of land preparation.
Soil and Water Analysis
Do not start a tomato farm if you do not plan to do a soil test and a water test.
A soil test will show the nutrient profile of your soil, microbial count and nature and the pH. This can guide you when you want to apply fertilizers.
A test of your water can also show the pH of the water and if the water is hard.
Selection of Tomato Seed
You need to choose the tomato variety you will plant when you want to start your tomato farm. There are a lot of seeds. You can choose to plant hybrid tomato seeds or open pollinated tomato seeds.
The best tomato hybrid seeds include Cobra F1, Platinum F1, Tylka F1 and Padma F1 etc.
Some tomato seeds are good for dry season only while some are good for the rainy season only. You need to choose the appropriate variety.
Lay the Irrigation Lines
Drip irrigation is the most preferred type of irrigation for tomato farming.
Drip irrigation ensures that water gets to the root zone of plants. Tomato plants and indeed all plants make better use of water when sent to the roots.
Drip irrigation also enables Fertigation and Chemigation. Fertigation is the passing of soluble fertilizers to the root zone of plants through the drip irrigation pipes. Chemigation is the passing of chemicals like pesticides to the root zone of plants through the drip irrigation hoses.
Drip irrigation can shoot up the yield of tomato by 100 – 200%.
Tomato plants need a nursery. Seedlings trays and suitable planting media are needed to nurse tomato seedlings before they are transplanted.
Tomato seedlings need to be transplanted after 4-5 weeks in nursery. Transplanting is an important step in the cultivation of tomato.
Transplanting should be done after the soil is well irrigated and also should be done in the evening or when there is less intensity of sun.
Application of Fertilizers and Manures
The right types of fertilizers and manures should be added to the soil. Foliar fertilizers too should be used for the tomato plants.
Using fertilizers blindly can mar your tomato farm.
In order to start your tomato farm, you will need to select the types of pesticides to use.
You may choose to use chemical pesticides, organic pesticides or both. Pesticides are used for the prevention and cure of diseases. They can also control pests.
Disease and Pest Prevention and Control
Cultural practices and the use of pesticides are the two key things for pest and disease management in tomato farming.
Staking tomato plants lift the foliage and stem of the plants away from the soil. This can prevent diseases. It can also prevent the activity of soil pest pests.
Staking also increases aeration and can significantly increase the yield of tomato plants.
Harvesting of the tomato fruits is one of the last steps of successfully starting a tomato farm.
Harvests usually start after the 60th day of planting. You will need to harvest several times before the end of the term of the tomato plants.
Marketing of produce
This is the final step of successfully starting a tomato farm. The tomato fruits are usually harvested and packed in cane made baskets or plastic trays. The use of plastic trays is better.
The harvested tomatoes can be sold in markets around you. They can also be sold to family and friends.
Do you have any questions on how to start a tomato farm? If yes, why not let’s continue the conversation in the comments’ section.