Tomatoes at a demonstration farm in Mombasa ASK Grounds in 2016. Gromost company is selling a tomato hybrid that tolerates curling virus ad wilts. Photo by Laban Robert.
In dealing with losses caused by leaf curl and other deadly wilts in tomatoes, a seed company has come up with a tomato hybrid that is least affected by the diseases.
TM 20 F1 is hybrid that has been developed to help farmers escape the losses to the above diseases, which are hard to control with chemicals.
The variety from Mahindra Seed, which is being marketed in Kenya by Gromost Seeds, has helped farmers in South Africa, India, among other countries in boosting production even with the threat of the ailments.
TM 20 F1 gives up to 30 tonnes of fruit per acre under god cop husbandry practices such as trimming, staking, weeding, among others.
It is harvested for six months before yields start dwindling.
The oval fruits have a firm coat that makes them have a long shelf life to allow for a lengthy selling period in case the market is poor. A firm coat is also important in transportation.
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Apart from the rolling upwards and inwards, tomato leave curling virus causes leaves to be stiff and have a purple stain on the veins. They also turn yellow, a condition called chlorosis.
The curling and turning yellow of the leaves reduces the surface are for photosynthesis. Reduced manufacturing of food in the tomatoes leaves leads to small unmarketable fruits, if formed.
The TLCV is spread by silver whitefly pest from affected crops or host weeds, which may not be victims.
Bacteria wilt and fusarium wilt cause withering of the crops following impairment of the water movement system, the xylem vessel.
When the microorganisms invade the passage, water and mineral deficiency strikes the tomatoes leading to wilting and death of the crop.
These two diseases also attack crops in the solanaceae family, which include black night shade, capsicum, cucumber, pepper, among others.