Tomato crops – optimising quality and yield the proven biological way
Roadmap to Sustainable Growing
Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are one of the most popular vegetable crops worldwide. It is a warm season crop, to achieve high yields and quality requires careful management of factors including temperature, moisture, nutrition and pest and disease control. Tomato varieties vary in size, shape, colour, flavour and texture. Based on their growth habit, they can be classified into determinate and indeterminate types.
Biological products are the way forward and, as such, have become an essential component in the cultivation of sustainable, quality tomato crops worldwide.
Our skilled technical advisors are here to help you get the most from your pollination strategies and integrated pest management (IPM) programmes, tailoring them to the specific needs of your crop. We set out to deliver the best possible return on investment.
Our team will help you:
- optimise crop quality, yield and cost-effectiveness
- comply with strict regulations
- meet consumer demands for residue-free crops
- provide long term sustainable solutions
- prevent pests and diseases building up resistance to the limited range of chemical crop protection products available.
Ultimately this delivers benefits, including:
- higher value crops – premium products
- greater range of market opportunities
- improved safety for crop workers, consumers and the environment.
Prevention and monitoring
Prevention is the first building block for an effective IPM programme. Following best practice, where possible you should aim to start with a pest-free crop; employ good hygiene measures; and maintain an environment favourable to healthy plant growth.
The next building block is preventative biological control. Where appropriate, you should establish a ‘standing army’ of beneficials forming the first line of defense.
You need to regularly scout and monitor tomato crops for pests and diseases. While helping to detect issues as early as possible, it enables the biological balance (population of pests and beneficials) to be closely monitored. As a result, data-driven informed decisions can be made regarding the most appropriate control strategies. Working with Biobest you can rest assured you have access to the latest labour-saving cost-efficient technologies and high-tech scouting options.
Employing ‘buzz pollination’, bumblebees are effective pollinators of tomato plants. Before the commercial use of bumblebees, growers needed to pollinate flowers manually, which was highly labour intensive.
Tomato flowers have poricidal anthers, which require vibration to release pollen. Bumblebees vibrate their wing muscles at a frequency of 200-400 Hz (“buzz”), while biting down on the anther cone. This releases the pollen with large amounts falling onto the bee and the stigma - resulting in self- and cross-pollination. Bumblebees are now used worldwide in protected tomato crops to add significant value – increasing tomato yields and improving fruit quality.
Being effective pollinators of tomato flowers, bumblebees deliver multiple benefits:
- increased fruit set – more tomatoes per plant
- improved fruit quality – properly pollinated flowers produce larger fruits with better flavour and higher soluble solids content
- better shelf life – pollination with bumblebees improves fruit firmness.
At Biobest we offer a wide range of bumblebee hives including a specially designed hive for use in crops grown using artificial lighting.
When pests or diseases start to build up beyond a tolerable threshold, you’ll need curative biocontrol solutions. These can take the form of programmed introductions of macroorganisms (such as beneficial insects, mites and nematodes) or biopesticides (based on natural substances and microbials). Tailored to the situation in your crop, our technical advisors can recommend the most appropriate products and rates to use.
Should the pest-to-beneficial balance be disrupted, a corrective treatment may be required, ideally using a bio-rational pesticide. Only as a last resort do we recommend localised spraying of a conventional pesticide. Where possible, it should be compatible with biocontrol agents, i.e. selective and with short persistence. To reduce the risk of resistance, growers should not repeatedly rely on the same pesticide or pesticide group.
Our knowledgeable team is eager to advise you!