Tomato farming is very common and popular throughout the world. It is an important commercial vegetable crop of many countries. And it is actually the second most important crop of world after potato.
Tomato is actually the edible berry of the plant Solanum lycopersicum (commonly known as tomato plant). The species originated in western South America and Central America.
The Nahuatl (the language used by the Aztecs) word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate, from which the English word tomato derived. It’s domestication and use as a cultivated food may have originated with the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
Tomatoes are a significant source of umami flavor. And it is consumed in diverse ways. It is consumed raw or cooked, in many dishes, sauces, salads and drinks.
Tomatoes are fruits (botanically classified as berries), and are used as a vegetable ingredient or side dish.
Many different varieties of tomato plant are widely grown in temperate climates across the world, with greenhouses allowing for the production of tomatoes throughout all of the year.
The tomato plants generally grow 3 to 10 feet in height. They are vines that have a weak stem that sprawls and typically needs support.
Indeterminate tomato plants are perennials in their native habitat, but are cultivated as annuals. Exact size of the tomato varies according to the cultivar, with a range of 0.5 to 4 inches in width.
Generally, tomatoes are eaten raw or cooked. It is used in soup, juice and ketch up, powder. It is a rich source of vitamin A, C, potassium and minerals.
Most of the tomato varieties are red when mature. But they also come in a variety of colors, including yellow, green, orange and purple. Many subspecies of tomatoes exist with different shapes and flavor.
However, here in this guide we are describing about tomato nutrition, advantages and ways of starting and operating a tomato farming business.
Tomato Nutritional Benefits
Tomato is excellent for health. It is rich in Vitamins and minerals. It is the major dietary source of the atioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
The water content in a raw tomato is around 95%. The other 5% consists mainly of carbohydrates and fiber. Here are the nutrients in 100 grams raw tomato.
- Calories: 18
- Water: 95%
- Protein: 0.9 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Sugar: 2.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
However, here we are shortly describing about the health benefits of consuming tomatoes.
- Fresh tomatoes are low in carbs. The carbs content consists mainly of simple sugars and insoluble fibers. Tomatoes are mostly made up of water.
- Tomato is a great source of some vitamins. It is rich in vitamin A, C, B9 and K1.
- Tomato is also a great source of some minerals. It is a rich source of potassium and folate.
- Lycopen is one of the most abundant plant compounds in tomatoes. It is found in the highest concentrations in tomato products, such as ketchup, juice, paste and sauce.
- Consuming tomatoes regularly is considered good for heart health, and it is also considered good for cancer prevention.
- Tomatoes are considered beneficial for skin health. And it may protect against sunburns.
- Tomato is a good source of lycopene, which is considered good for your eyes.
- Consuming tomatoes on a regular basis may boost your digestive health.
- According to a study, tomatoes may be a protective food for the people with type 2 diabetes. 
Advantages of Tomato Farming
Commercial tomato farming business is very easy and simple, and the business has many benefits or advantages. The tomato plants generally require less caring and other management. So, starting commercial tomato farming is very easy.
You can start tomato farming business commercially for making profits. Growing tomato plants is very easy, even the beginners can also start growing tomatoes. Here we are shortly describing about the top advantages of tomato farming business.
- Tomato farming is an old business idea, and it is a popular business throughout the world.
- It is an established business. Many people are already doing this business for making profits.
- Caring tomato plants is very easy. You can start this business, even if you are a beginner.
- Both demand and value of tomatoes are good in the market.
- The tomato plants generally grow almost everywhere.
- Commercial tomato farming is a good business idea, if you are an unemployed educated person. And it can be a great employment source.
- Production costs in this business is relatively less. But the return or profit is very good.
- Marketing tomato is very easy, because it has very good demand and value in the market. So, you will probably be able to easily sell your products in the local market.
- Consuming tomatoes regularly has may health benefits. And you can enjoy fresh tomatoes if you start your own tomato farming business.
How to Start Tomato Farming
Starting commercial or small scale tomato farming business is very easy and simple. The tomato plants generally require less caring and other management. So, you will be able to easily start and operate this business, even if you are a beginner.
The tomato plants generally grow well in almost all types of environment with the availability of full sun. And almost all types of soil are good for tomato farming.
You can easily start this business in your area. Here in this guide, we are trying to describe more information about tomato farming business from planting, caring to harvesting and marketing.
Select Good Location
First of all, you have to select a very good location for starting your tomato farming business. It will be better if the selected land become fertile and well drained with exposure to full sun.
The tomato plants generally grow well in all types of soil. Soil with pH 7 to 8.5 is considered ideal for tomato farming.
Sandy loamy soil with good moisture retaining, aeration and proper drainage system are perfect for best growth of the plants and higher fruit yields.
Prepare the Soil
Before planting tomato plants, you have to prepare the soil perfectly. The tomato plants can be grown in a wide variety of soil types ranging from sandy loam to clay, black soil and red soil having proper drainage.
The plants grow well under well drained sandy soil with high organic content. The plants can tolerate moderate acidic and saline soil, but avoid cultivation in high acidic soils.
For preparing the soil for tomato farming, plough the land 4 to 5 times and level it. Add well decomposed cow dung and Carbofuron at the rate of 5kg or Neem cake at the rate of 8kg per acre at the time of last ploughing.
Soil solarization is carried out to destroy harmful soil borne pathogen, pest and organism. It can also be done by using transparent plastic film as mulch. This sheet absorb radiation and thus increases soil temperature and kill pathogen.
Climate Requirement For Tomato Farming
Tomato is a day-neutral plant, so it can widely found and grown in any season. In the southern plains where there is no danger of frost, the first transplanting is done in December to January, second in June to July and third in September to October depending on the irrigation facilities available.
In the northern plains, three crops are taken but in frost affected area Rabi crop is not fruitful. The Kharif crop is transplanted in July, Rabi crop in October-November and Zaid crop in February months.
Best Time For Tomato Cultivation
Tomatoes actually can be grown throughout the year. And there are some tomato varieties available that grow and produce fruits throughout the year.
You can actually start growing tomatoes after the frost disappears. You can plant seeds indoor prior to 6 to 8 weeks of the average last spring frost date, if you want to have an early harvest.
And where there is no fear of frost, the tomatoes can be grown any time, especially in the southern tropical areas.
Although, you can’t expect good yield in excessive hot temperature. Around 22 °C temperature of the soil is considered ideal for germinating the tomato seeds.
Choose A Variety
For good yield and maximum profits, you have to choose the right variety. There are actually many different varieties of tomatoes available in the market to choose from.
Some of these available varieties are of large size, some are small, some are of amazing colors, some are made for specific regions, some varieties are of bush type and some are dwarf. Some varieties take less time to harvest and some require around or more than 3 months.
Depending on your choice, location and purpose, choose the right variety for your business. You can consult with an existing farmer in your area for better recommendations.
Collect or purchase seeds, after selecting the good variety for your business. Tomato seeds are easily available in the market. So, you will probably be able to purchase the seeds from your local market.
You can also consider ordering the seeds online. Today, there are some seed suppliers with online stores.
Seeds Per Acre
You will need about 100 grams of seeds for planting an area of around one acre.
You can plant either seeds or seedlings when the soil is warm. It is good to start in pots or container and then transplant. The seedlings will be ready for transplanting when they are of approximately 6 inches height.
Hardening off transplants is very important if you plant seeds indoor. So harden off transplants for a week before planting in the garden.
Set the transplants outdoors in the shade for a couple of hours for the first day, for hardening off transplants. And then gradually increase the amount of time your plants are kept outside each day.
It will be better if you can place tomato stakes or cages in the soil, during the time of planting.
Depending upon variety, uses and it’s growth habit, use spacing of 60x30cm or 75x60cm or 75x75cm. For dwarf variety use spacing of 75cm x 30cm and for rainy season use spacing of 120-150 x 30cm.
The tomato plants generally require less caring and other management. Although it is important to take additional caring for good yield.
Caring the tomato plants is very easy and simple. Here we are trying to describe more information about the caring process for commercial tomato farming business.
The tomato plants are heavy feeders, so apply adequate fertilizers. At the time of land preparation, apply well rotten cow [email protected]/acre and mix well in the soil. Apply fertilizer dose of N:P:K @60:25:25kg/acre in form of [email protected]/acre, Single Super [email protected]5kg/acre and [email protected]/acre.
Apply half dose of Nitrogen, full dose of Phosphorus and Potash applied as basal dose, apply it before transplanting. 20 to 30days after transplantation apply remaining 1/4th dose of nitrogen. Two month after transplantation, apply remaining dose of Urea.
Apply adequate irrigation during winter with an interval of 6 to 7 days. And in summer months, apply irrigation with an interval of 10 to 15 days depending upon soil moisture.
Period of drought followed by heavy watering leads to cracking of fruits. Flowering stage is critical for irrigation, water stress during this stage can leads to flower drop and adversely affecting fruiting and productivity.
According to various researches, it is found that, half inch irrigation at every fortnight causes maximum penetration of roots and thus gives high yield.
Mulcing is very important for retaining moisture into the soil. It is also beneficial for controlling weeds from the field.
Do frequent weeding, hoeing and earthing up and keep field weed free till 45 days. If weed left uncontrolled then it will reduce crop yield upto 70 to 90 percent.
Two to three days of after transplantation take spray of Fluchloralin @800ml/200Ltr water as pre-emergence weedicide. If weed intensity is high, take post emergence spray of [email protected]/acre. Mulching is also an effective way to reduce soil temperature along with weed control.
Prune the plants by pinching off side stems (suckers), if you are using stakes and keep only a couple of branches.
Pests & Diseases
Like most other plants, the tomato plants are susceptible to insect pests and some diseases. Pest and diseases are common problem for tomato farming business. So, you must have to take necessary steps for controlling all these pests and diseases.
The most common pest that affect your tomato plants is whitefly. The adult whiteflies lay eggs on the underside of the leaves. Try spraying with water to wash them off. Do this immediately when you see the eggs. You can also remove the eggs by hand.
The tomato blight is caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans. Brown marks on the leaves are the common signs of this which increases in size quickly.
Aphids are also common in tomato plants. Spraying the plants with water will help to prevent this.
Mosaic virus is also common in tomato plants. There are actually many different types of mosaic virus which can affect tomato plants. This is a very infectious virus and can be transmitted from plant to plant by humans.
Planting resistant tomato varieties will help to control this virus. Don’t save seeds from the infected plants. You can use least-toxic, natural pest control products for preventing this disease such as neem oil, soap, diatomaceous earth etc. Also destroy all the infected plants from your garden.
Cracking is also a common problem for the tomato plants. Actually the skin of the fruits will crack, especially when fruit growth is too rapid. Cracking generally occurs due to uneven watering and uneven moisture from weather conditions. Consistent mulching and watering, and keeping the moisture levels constant will help to prevent cracking.
You can apply chemical treatment for commercial tomato farming business. Contact with an expert in your area for better recommendations.
Depending on the variety, most of the plants will start yielding by 70 days after transplantation. Harvesting is done depending upon purpose like for fresh market, long distance transport etc.
Mature green tomatoes, 1/4th fruits portion gives pink color are harvested for long distance markets.
Almost all fruits turn into pink or red color but having firm flesh are harvested for local markets. For processing and seed extraction purpose, fully ripe fruits with soft flesh are used.
Post Harvesting Tasks
After harvesting, grading is done. Then the fruits are packed in bamboo baskets or crates or wooden boxes.
To increase self-life of tomato during long distance transport pre-cooling is carried out. From ripen tomatoes several products like Puree, syrup, juice and ketch up are made after processing.
Marketing tomatoes is very easy. You will probably be able to easily sell your products in the local market. You can market either raw tomatoes or some products made from tomatoes.
These are the common steps and ways for starting and operating a successful tomato farming business. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may God bless you!