Growing tomatoes in the rainy season:
With the soaring costs of Diesel, Electricity, Petrol and Labor…
it makes good sense to depend on rain fed agriculture, instead of irrigation.
Adopting this strategy can help reduce irrigation costs significantly.
So this post explores the:
- OPPORTUNITIES associated with Growing Tomatoes in the rainy season in the open field…
- How to avoid the numerous pitfalls associated with it.
- And how to make huge cost saving growing tomatoes like a pro
I am writing this so that you can make HUGE profit, if you decide to grow rain fed tomatoes.
Those who’ve taken action, are
This post is drawn from my own experience growing tomatoes during the rainy season.
So you can rely on the profitable strategies outlined here…
To start your tomato farming project.
I explain in detail, how to use nothing else as the source of water for your tomatoes other than rain…
Though the ideal tomato growing method is irrigation.
I share some of the insider tips on…
How you can grow tomatoes in the rainy season.
Back in 2014, I was hit by this bug of wanting to grow tomatoes.
It hit me hard.
I couldn’t think of anything else, other than growing tomatoes at huge profits.
The dream of earning millions in one tomato growing season consumed me like a forest fire.
So if you have ever desired to grow tomatoes, you are not alone.
After much research and thought, I succumbed to the bug.
So I decided to grow the Rambo F1, and the Star 9065 F1 tomato hybrids.
These two tomato breeds are known for their:
- Great productivity,
- Ability to produce 90% GRADE A tomato fruits,
- And amazing yields per acre.
I have written part of my experience growing the two tomato varieties here.
If you are Interested, come back later and follow this link.
Get up to 400 Crates of tomatoes per acre
Rambo F1 tomato hybrid is known for its ability to produce 90% grade 1 tomatoes, plus up to 30 tons per acre. Become Wealthy growing this tomato variety like hundreds of other farmers!
The Unexpected Surprise of Tomato Farming
One thing that came to me as a surprise was the cost of tomato F1 seeds.
I did not expect it to be high.
My friend, to grow tomatoes, expect to use upwards of Ksh 20,000 per acre on seed.
Depending on the seed variety, the costs can be much higher.
This cost of seed is quite significant.
It is the monthly salary of hundreds of thousands of Kenyans.
For this reason, making mistakes in tomato farming is very costly.
In my first season growing hybrid tomato varieties, I lost about 25% of my seedlings in the nursery.
That loss hurt me bad.
It bruised my ego, and I almost gave up on tomato farming.
That’s why I am so passionate about writing this article.
I want to save you from committing costly mistakes that could ruin your tomato growing experience.
“What happened that triggered this massive loss of seedlings?”
You may ask.
Two things were responsible for this loss.
- One was about the timing of the rain,
- The other was seedlings diseases of tomatoes.
The Rains Came Late
This is the risk you’ll always face when relying on rain for growing tomato.
However, there’s a clever way to minimize this risk…
and you’ll know about it if you continue reading.
From history, during the long rains in Kiambu, the rains begin to fall around April 10.
So in my calculations, I knew if I planted seed in a nursery 3 weeks earlier, by the time rains start, the seedlings would be ready for transplanting.
Shock on me.
That season, the rains misbehaved.
April 10 came and passed.
There was no rain.
Another week passed, and another, yet there was no rain.
The rain began to fall 2 weeks after the expected date.
My whole plan was ruined by this development.
By then, my tomato seedlings were about 5 weeks old.
They had overstayed in the nursery, thus had become leggy and weak for transplanting.
Do you see why tomato growing experience is vital for success?
If you’ve ever grown tomato, you know 3 weeks is the perfect age for transplanting.
In worst case scenario, transplanting shouldn’t go beyond 4 weeks.
In my case the seedlings were 5 weeks old.
Consequently, I lost a good number of them…
as they were unable to withstand transplanting shock.
Why couldn’t I transplant the seedlings to the farm regardless of the late rains?
You may ask.
Man, I was foolish.
I did not have a backup plan for irrigating the seedlings in case the rains failed.
So what’s the lesson Here?
As much as you plan to rely on the rain, irrigation is necessary in case things go south.
Does this mean I can’t grow tomatoes relying on rain?
Must I have backup irrigation water?
Having irrigation water is good and perhaps necessary.
With it, you have less worry about late rains.
Nevertheless, you can still grow tomatoes using rainfall as the only source of water.
In fact, currently 90% of food production in the world is rain fed.
And the world has always survived this way for millennia.
To reduce the risk of rain fed agriculture, you need strategic action.
Here’s what to do to succeed growing Tomatoes from rainfall
- Don’t sow the seeds too early. Here’s what I mean. If you expect the rains to begin in April 10, like my case, sow the seeds 1 week early. Should the rains get late by 1 or 2 weeks, your tomato seedlings won’t have overgrown.
- Avoid sowing all your tomato seed at the same time. Instead, split the seeds into halves. Grow one half, 1 week before the rain, and the other half 1 week after the rain has started. By doing this you’ll reduce your risk.
- The best option is to have a backup irrigation plan. This will allow you to transplant and irrigate as you wait for the rains to start.
The other problem that caused me seedling losses was diseases and pests that occur in the nursery.
Fusarium wilt and cutworms destroyed about 25% of the seedlings.
This was a huge loss considering tomatoe hybrid seedlings are very costly.
Can you imagine, depending on the variety, you can pay over Ksh 10 per seed?
This may look small and insignificant.
But when you go large scale and decide to grow 30,000 tomato plants–that’s Ksh 300,000 on seed!
I suffered disease and pest attack because I grew the seedlings on a soil nursery.
This was a big mistake.
I came to know later that expensive tomato seeds are never sown in a nursery.
Instead, you sow the seeds in a seedling tray that you can buy here.
Which is The Best Season to Grow tomatoes? The Long rains or the short rains?
It all depends on your farms location.
If you are located in the highlands of Kenya, growing tomato in the Long rain is a big NO.
Tomato does not need a lot of rain to produce big harvests.
In fact, it produces best yields under moderate rainfall or irrigation.
Too much rainfall causes serious infestations of diseases like blights, and mildews.
Consequently, disease control becomes an expensive affair.
So if you are in the Kenya highlands, the best time to grow tomatoes is during the short rains.
One thing to note about this…
“In some highland areas e.g. this is the season of frosts and hailstones.”
If your area faces these conditions, it might be best to grow the tomatoes in a greenhouse.
What if I am not in the highlands, does this apply?
If you are ukambani, Luo Nyanza, Homabay, lower Eastern area, Kajiado, and other Mid altitude areas, you can grow tomatoes both in the long and short rain seasons.
Do this and you’ll get unimagined success growing tomatoes in the rainy season.
Pest Control in Rain Grown Tomatoes.
Pests are fewer during the rainy season.
The huge rain droplets usually washes them away from the plants.
When this is combined with the cold windy conditions, pests grow and multiply much slowly.
However, this does not mean that you won’t find any pests during the rainy season.
They are still there, though in reduced numbers.
If you fail to control them, a little change to warm weather may result into rapid multiplication of these pests.
To control pests effectively, you must apply preventive sprays during crucial periods like flowering and fruiting.
So What are the most Common Tomato Pests?
The most common tomato pest is the aphid.
Though whiteflies, red spider mites are also becoming a major concern.
To control these pests effectively, scout for them pests regularly.
Scouting for pests involves going round the farm regularly checking various areas for the presence of pests.
You look the underside of the tomato leaves for any pests.
You also examine with a magnifying glass for any tiny pests like thrips.
In case of sightings, take remedial action immediately by spraying the right insecticide.
Its about the most destructive tomato pest in the world.
This pest is tuta absoluta.
It is most destructive during the fruiting stage.
The impact of this pest is so profound, that I’ll need to discuss about it in DETAIL in a future blog post.
For now, let us know how to…
Disease Control in Rain Fed tomatoes
Controlling diseases in tomato plants during the rainy season can be challenging.
However, there are several steps you can take to minimize the risk of infection, and protect your crop.
Here are some tips:
- Select disease-resistant tomato varieties:
Choose tomato varieties that are resistant to common diseases such as early blight, late blight, and fungal infections.
This can significantly reduce the risk of infection during the rainy season.
- Plant in well-drained soil:
Poorly drained soil can lead to waterlogging and increase the risk of disease development.
Ensure that the soil is well-drained, and consider using raised beds or mounds to improve drainage.
Proper plant spacing: Proper plant spacing can promote better air circulation, which can help prevent the buildup of moisture and reduce the risk of disease.
- Remove infected plants
If you notice any signs of disease in your tomato plants, such as yellowing or spotting, remove the infected plants immediately to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants.
- Use fungicides
Fungicides can be effective in controlling and preventing diseases in tomato plants.
Use fungicides as directed and follow safety guidelines.
By following these steps, you can minimize the risk of disease development and protect your tomato crop during the rainy season.
Conclusion and Way Forward:
You can still successfully grow tomatoes during the rainy season.
I have done it, and I believe, you can do it too.
What are your thoughts on growing tomatoes during the rainy season?
Share them in the comments section below.
Kilele F1 VRS Rambo F1 tomato variety. Which is the best?