Tomato

This is modified from the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for CommercialGrowers  (ID-56) as an introduction to the production practices of tomatoes. For more information, see the ID-56 or contact a SWPAP specialist.  

Tomato — Fresh Market Varieties

Varieties

Season

Crack Resistance

Firmness

Vine Type1

Sunshine

first early

good

firm

D

Jet Star

early

good

fair

I

Celebrity

early-main

fair

fair

D

Fabulous

early-main

good

firm

D

Florida 91

early-main

excellent

firm

D

Mountain Spring

early-main

excellent

very firm

D

Red Sun

early-main

good

firm

D

Sun Brite

early-main

good

 

D

Sunsation

early-main

 

firm

D

Amelia

main

good

firm

D

BHN 589

main

excellent

firm

D

Big Beef

main

good

fair

I

Biltmore

main

good

firm

D

Crista

main

good

very firm

D

Florida 47

main

good

firm

D

Mountain Fresh

main

good

firm

D

Sun Leaper

main-late

 

firm

D

For trial: Primo Red (early), Linda

 

 

 

 

Yellow: Carolina Gold, Lemon Boy

 

 

 

 

Cherry types: Mountain Belle

 

 

 

 

Grape types: Santa (indeterminate), Sweet Olive (determinate), Jolly Elf (determinate, for trial), Golden Sweet (yellow)

 

 

 

 

Roma types: BHN 411, Plum Dandy, LaRossa

 

 

 

 

Vine Type: I=indeterminate (long vine); D=determinate (short vine).

Transplants

Eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are typically started as transplants in greenhouses or artificially lit growing rooms — refer to the Transplant Production section (pages 9-11).

For rapid seed germination, maintain the temperature of potting mix at 85°F. Grow eggplant seedlings between 70°F and 80°F during the day and 65°F and 70°F at night, and tomatoes and peppers between 65°F and 75°F during the day and 60°F and 65°F at night.

Pepper and eggplant seedlings should be ready for the field in six to eight weeks and tomatoes in five to seven weeks.

Before transplanting, harden seedlings by exposing them for a few days to higher light and temperatures between 60°F and 65°F. Set tomatoes in the field after the danger of frost has passed. For peppers and eggplant, wait until soil has warmed and average daily temperature reach 65°F.

Production Systems for Fresh Market

Fresh market eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are often grown on raised beds covered with plastic mulch to promote earliness — refer to the Plastic Mulch section (page 16). Drip irrigation beneath the mulch provides a uniform water supply and can deliver fertilizer during the growing season. Typical beds are 30 inches across, 4 to 6 inches high, and centered 5 to 6 feet apart.

Tomatoes and eggplant: Space 1.5 to 2.5 feet apart in the row.

Peppers: Space 1 to 1.5 feet apart. Or, plant a double row of peppers with 1.5 feet between rows and 1 foot between plants.

Bare ground culture: Space rows 2.5 to 5 feet apart. Tomatoes and eggplants: space 1.5 to 3 feet apart in the row. Peppers: space 1 to 1.5 feet apart in the row.

Tomatoes may be left to grow over the ground or may be supported by cages, stakes, strings, or a trellis-weave system. Supported tomatoes produce higher quality fruit than unsupported plants and marketable yield is usually much greater. Tomatoes supported by stakes or trellises are sometimes pruned, which involves removing several or all of the branches up to the branch just below the first flower cluster when the branches are a few inches long. For tomatoes supported by vertical string, only one or two stems are allowed to grow and so pruning continues throughout the season to remove branches that develop above the first flower cluster. Pruned plants produce larger fruit than unpruned plants, but the quantity of fruit is reduced.

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