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Pioneering the Future

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Crop Guide: Tomato

Index:
 

1. Tomato Crop Guide: Growth patterns

Tomato cultivars may be classified into three groups by their growth patterns, which are recognized by the arrangement and the frequency of leaves and the inflorescence on the stem.
  • Indeterminate growth – the main and side stems continue their growth in a continuous pattern. The number of leaves between inflorescence is more or less constant, starting from a specific flowering set (Fig. 1a). Cultivars of indeterminate growth are usually grown as greenhouse or staked tomatoes.
  • Determinate growth – the main and side stems stop growth after a specific number of inflorescences that varies with the specific cultivar (Fig. 1b). Processing tomatoes are often belong to determinate cultivars.
  • Semi-determinate growth - branches stop growth with an inflorescence, but this usually occurs at an advanced growth stage. Cultivars of this group are usually grown as out-door, non-staked tomatoes.
 
 
Table 1: Number of leaves between inflorescence in different growth patterns.
 
No. of leaves before inflorescence
 
Indeterminate
Determinate
1st inflorescence
6-14
4-3
2nd inflorescence
5-7
2-3
3rd and further inflorescences
3-5
0-1
 
 
Figure 1a: Indeterminate type of tomato growth  Figure 1b: Determinate type of tomato growth  
 
 

2. Tomato crop guide: Growth stages

Growth stages of plants, in very general terms, can be split into four periods:
  • Establishment from planting or seeding during vegetative growth until first flower appears.
  • From first flowering to first fruit set.
  • From fruit ripening to first harvest.
  • From first harvest to the end of last harvest.

 

These growth periods also represent different nutritional needs of the plant (see section 3.1). 
The duration of each stage may vary according to growing method, variety characteristics and climatic conditions (Table 2).
 
Table 2: A typical example of a growth cycle in central Israel by growth stages.
Variety
VF121
Growing method
Greenhouse
Number days to first flowering
30
Number days to first harvesting
65
Growth stage
Stage duration (days)
Crop age (days)
Planting
1
1
Vegetative
14
15
First flowering
15
30
First fruit set
10
40
Fruit growth
20
60
Starting harvest - until end of last harvest
21-145
81-210
 
 
 

3. Tomato crop guide: Fruit development

After fruit setting, fruit ripens over a period of 45 - 70 days, depending upon the cultivar, climate and growth conditions. The fruit continues growing until the stage of green ripeness. 
Three fruit developmental stages are noted. 
Ripening occurs as the fruit changes color from light green to off-white, pink, red, and finally dark red or orange. Depending on the distance and time to market, harvest may occur anytime between the pink to dark red stage, the later stages producing more flavorful fruit.
 
Table 3: Stages of fruit ripening
Stage
Description
Breaker
Red stains appear on fruit skin
Pink
Tomato turns pink, not yet ready for consumption
Red
The tomato is red and completely ripe for consumption
 
 

4. Tomato crop guide: Crop uses

Tomatoes are consumed fresh, and are being processed to pickles, sauce, juice and concentrated pastes.
 
 
 
Need more information about growing tomatoes? You can always return to the tomato fertilizer & tomato crop guide table of contents