FarmBiz Africa

Irregular irrigation causes splitting in tomato farming


Farm­ers, who fail to fol­low a reg­u­lar ir­rig­a­tion routine, make losses due to the split­ting of the to­ma­toes as a res­ult of stress.

To­mato fruits crack after a water short­age fol­lowed by a sud­den ex­cess avail­ab­il­ity. Split­ting or crack­ing makes the fruits lose the mar­ket value, be­sides turn­ing into mul­ti­plic­a­tion zones for dis­ease caus­ing patho­gens like bac­teria.

Ag­ro­nom­ist Obed Ka­moni said the sud­den entry of water in plenty into the cells of the to­mato fruit cause an ab­rupt ex­pan­sion and con­trac­tion of the cells.

“Fruit cells are like bal­loons. An in­flux of water causes the cells to swell to ac­com­mod­ate the ex­cess volume. Ex­cess volume causes the rup­tur­ing of the skin be­cause it can­not con­tain the sud­den in­crease in volume,” the ag­ro­nom­ist, who works for East African Seed Com­pany, said.

READ ALSO: Ripe to­ma­toes sold for 30 days

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If one’s routine is ir­rig­at­ing the farm once a week, this timetable should be fol­lowed. The same amount of water has to be ap­plied to about two inches depth if it is done once a week. If it is a daily drip ir­rig­a­tion pro­cess, it should be done so.

The ir­rig­a­tion timetable is de­term­ined by the weather. For in­stance if drought has set in, wa­ter­ing in­ter­vals have to be in­creased, but in a gradual way to avoid caus­ing the stress.

An­other prob­lem that can be caused by ir­reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing, the ag­ro­nom­ist said, is the blos­som-end rot.

Over­wa­ter­ing fol­lowed by un­der­wa­ter­ing causes a fluc­tu­ation of the cal­cium con­cen­tra­tion in the fruits, lead­ing to the ‘scotched’ patches at the base of the fruits.

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