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Scientific Name Lycopersicon esculentum

I. Botany/History

  • Family: Solanaceae

Growth Habit: short lived perennial in its natural habitat. In agriculture there are two main growth types of tomato determinant and indeterminant or to simplify bush and vine.

  • Origin: Central and South America
  • Development: First thought to be domesticated in Mexico, where seeds had been transported from Peru. Eventually when Europeans arrived in the Americas, they took some fruits/plants back to Spain. It is said by many that the plant took a long time to develop in the old world due to the tomato's relation to many posionous plants.

II. Uses There are two main forms of production of tomatoes in the greenhouse. One is to produce transplant tomatoes in which they are finished outdoors, or tomatoes which are grown the entire life span of the plant inside the greenhouse and tend to be of the vine variety. I will be discussing greenhouse traits of the former here. Transplant tomatoes are either sold to an eventual retail market or are used by the greenhouse itself for outdoor production.

III. Propagation Most tomatoes are started in the greenhouse from seed. Propagation tends to be discouraged due to disease.

IV. Growing/Flowering a. The tendency for most growers of tomato transplants is to start the crop in January for exterior transplant and as late as March for interior transplant. Germination takes place in a growth chamber, propagation room, or some similar place. Temperatures must not be below 55 degrees and tend to be optimum around 70-80 degrees. However, if for field production a 5 week period of days with avg. temperatures in the range of 60-70 and a +5 DIF is recommended.

b. Two types of media are typically used. One is a standard peat-vermiculite-perlite type mix and the other is by using rock wool (hydroponic) media. The peat mixes are usually grown in plastic packs, where the rockwool is usually started in small "blocks". Several different types of media exist besides these. The important thing is to find a media with a pH of about 6.0. c. Since the plant never reaches the adult stage in the greenhouse (in the transplant method at any rate), watering and irrigation are at low levels, even for greenhouse plants. Since no chemical growth regulators are allowed and the plants LD requirement the usual methods of growth regulation are drying down and brushing.

VI Disorders

  • Insects: Aphids, Thrips, Leaf miners, several moths
  • Disease: Bacterial Wilt, Root rots
  • Physiological: For tomatoes which are produced entirely in the greenhouse, Blossom End Rot, sun scald, and cracking are concerns

VII. Marketing and Grading

  • Areas of production in U.S.: Practically Nationwide, but especially on the West Coast FL and MI

VIII. Postharvest Handling Although many growers do not ship transplants but utilize the plants themselves, some producers to sell wholesale to garden centers. The plans do need to be cared for well while in transit, but are hardier than other greenhouse crops.

IX. Cultivars There are literally hundreds but many of the most known include "Roma", "Better Boy" et al.

X. References