• Our Location KALRO, Kaptagat Rd

  • Mail Us info@kalro.org

  • Call Us (+254) 0722 206 986

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)

Local names in Kenya (Nyanya; Tsinyanya)



Tomato is one of the most widely cultivated vegetable crops in Kenya. In western Kenya it is mostly grown for home consumption in the backyard of homesteads. Tomato is consumed in diverse ways, raw or cooked, in many dishes, sauces, salad and drinks. Tomato yields in smallholder cropping systems in the region are generally far below the potential of the crop. There are several reasons for low yields. Among these are low quality seeds, non-availability of inputs, sub-optimum crop husbandry and a large number of pests and diseases.


Site selection
Select a suitable and well drained ground depending on the agro ecological requirement of the crop 


Altitude range

Tomato require altitudes of 0 – 2000 masl

Soil type and conditions

Deep, well-drained fertile loams soil rich in organic matter. It requires a pH: 5.0 – 7.0, Zn, Mn and Fe become deficient and below 4.5, producing sour fruits. Tomato nutrient requirements include: N, P, K, Mg, Ca, S, Mn, Mo, Zn, Bo, Cu, Fe

Temperature range

The temperatures should be 18 – 29 oC


Rainfall of 600 mm is essential during production period


Land preparation

Prepare the main field 1-2 weeks before transplanting, to create good condition for field establishment 


Steps during land preparation

  1. Prepare the main field 1-2 weeks before transplanting
  2. Plough and harrow to appropriate tilth

Apply manure and basic fertilizer according to soil analysis results and recommendations



Planting materials

Select planting materials from reliable sources/agro-vets that are early maturing, bushy, short stem and preferred in the market 


Direct planting can be done or seedlings can be raised in a nursery by:

Constructing raised or sunken nursery beds at 1 m width by desired length

Incorporate 5 kg of well-decomposed compost or manure/m2 into the seedbed

Sterilize the nursery bed with hot water treatment, burning, solarization or application of appropriate pesticide

Sow seeds in the furrows 20cm spaced at 2.5cm and cover lightly with soil

Mulch and water regularly until the seedlings emerge

After emergence of seedlings remove the mulch from the beds and construct a raised shade (about 1 m)

Apply adequate water regularly to sustain good, healthy growth of the seedlings

Keep the nursery weed-free and scout for pests and diseases


Ensure the required and recommended varieties that is adapted to the ecological conditions


Varieties include;

Fresh market; Money Make, Elgon Ndume, Marmande, Rio Grande,

Processing; Cal-J -Determinate, M-82, Roma VF, Bush tomato


Direct planting or transplanting can be practiced 



Water the nursery to saturation point 12 hours before transplanting

Transplant seedlings at 3-4 weeks in the nursery. Transplanting should be done either in the early morning or late in the evening

Make furrows or planting holes depending on the spacing of the specific variety e.g. 100 cm x 50 cm; 75 cm x 50 cm; 70 cm x 45 cm; 60 cm x 45 cm.

Wider spacing of 100 cm x 50 cm is good

Target plant population density 37,000 to 9,300 plants per ha


Water management
Irrigate regularly especially during critical periods like nursery, flower setting and fruit development and during dry spell 


Irrigate early in the morning to avoid late blight disease

Reduce watering at the end of crop maturity

Regular watering reduces blossom end rot, ensures uniform fruit development, prevents fruit splitting, reduces the risk of sun scorch, enhances fruit growth, and increases the size and number of fruits


Weed management
Timely weeding should be practised 


Weeding is done through hoeing, mulching or use of herbicides

Do shallow cultivation not too close to the plant in order to prevent damage of the plants


Soil fertility
Apply required nutrients based on results of soil test analysis and on plant nutrient requirements 


Apply top-dressing fertilizer such as CAN in 2 splits at 100kg per ha (5g or ½ teaspoonful per plant) and 200kg per ha at 4 and 8 weeks, respectively, after transplanting


Crop management
Prune to leave 1 to 2 main stems and pinch out the lateral as they grow every week 


Stake if necessary depending on the varieties

Guide plant along the trellising string or wire

Put a 2m stick firmly in the ground for each tomato plant and tie the stems loosely as the plant grows


Put a stout pole in the ground at every 4m and 2 wires running one at 2m and another at 0.15m above the ground

Tie a strong string between the two wires behind each tomato plant

Twist the plants carefully around the strings as they grow

Start staking about two weeks after transplanting

Pruning is done by removing the lower mature leaves and checking for the presence of pests and diseases

Pruning creates microclimate that improves air circulation within the canopy which reduces foliar diseases, facilitates harvesting and spraying

Pruningh leads to earlier maturity and encourages fruits to increase in size and uniformity



Pest management
Check for pests; burying deep 50-100 cm infested fruits and foliage 


Pests include;

Tuta absoluta, African bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), Red Spider mite (Tetranychus cinnabarinu, T. lomardin and T. telaryus), Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci), Root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp) and Thrips.


Tuta absoluta

Burnt leaves with irregular mines that have black deposits (frass)

Black cracks on the stem and holes on the fruit surface leading to tunnels in the fruit


Control of Tuta absoluta

Plant clean seedlings free from all stages of the moth

Rotate with non-host crops such as maize, beans and cabbages

Remove and destroy wild host plants such as Sodom apple around the farm

Remove and burn all infected crop residues

Remove infested leaves before the caterpillar inside pupates and becomes an egg-laying adult

Burying deep 50-100 cm infested fruits and foliage.

Clean all equipment used in transportation of tomatoes such as boxes, crates and trucks using soap and water

Use black sticky traps-24 pcs per acre, placed 15-20 cm above the ground

Use screen vents in roofs and on the sides of the greenhouse to reduce insect pest migration

Use of Bacillus thuringiensis controls outbreaks

Use sex pheromone traps on the males, thus reducing the populations due to reduced fertilization of the females

Pheromone lures can be used for monitoring and mass trapping

Spray using spinetoram (Radiant 120 SC(R)) at the rate of 18-30ml per 20 L of water

Spray using Chlorantraniliprol (Corragen 20 SC (R)) at the rate of 2ml per 20 L of water


African bollworm

Adult moth is dull yellow to brown

The female moth is attracted to flowers where it lays between 750-1000 eggs

Eggs are tiny round and brownish and laid near or on flowers or small fruits

Eggs hatch after 2 to 4 days

Larvae have alternating light and dark colored stripes on either side of the body

The larval life lasts about 3 weeks

The pupa is shiny brown. Pupal period lasts 10 to 14 days


Control of African bollworm

Rotate with non-host crops such as maize, beans and cabbages

Remove and destroy wild host plants such as sodom apple around the farm

Remove and burn all infected crop residues

Remove infested leaves before the caterpillar inside pupates and becomes an egg-laying adult

Burying deep 50-100 cm of infested fruits and foliage

Use black sticky traps - 24 pcs/acre, placed 15-20 cm above the ground

Use screen vents in roofs and on the sides of the greenhouse to reduce insect pest migration

Spray using spinetoram (Radiant 120 SC (R)) at the rate of 18-30ml per 20 L of water



Red Spider mite


White fly


Root-knot nematode





Disease management
Check for disease; remove and burn infected plants as soon as possible to check the spread of the diseases 


Major diseases include;

Damping off, bacterial wilt (Pseudomonas scalanacearum), Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and blossom end rot (BER)

Damping off

Caused by several pathogens namely, Pythium spp Fusarium spp and Rhizoctonia solani


Control of Damping off

Use certified disease-free seed

Seed treatment with fungicide e.g. Apron Star®

Avoid siting seedbed near tomato field

Avoid excessive fertilization using nitrogen compounds

Solarization of seedbed

Thin seedlings in nursery bed to allow for good air circulation

Proper watering in nurseries

Bacterial wilt

Caused by Pseudomonas solanacearum. The disease causes wilt of tomatoes. It is seed-borne in tomatoes

Bacterial wilt effects the whole plant

Symptom first appear on the youngest leaves and a rapid wilt of the whole plant occurs

Adventitious roots appear on the infected stem.The vascular bundles will be yellowish brown in the initial stages of the disease


Control of bacterial wilt

Practice crop rotation, with non-susceptible crop

Tomatoes should not follow Solanaceous crops like potatoes and capsicums

Produce transplants in pathogen-free soil

Remove and burn infected plants as soon as possible to check the spread of the diseases

Plant resistant tomato cultivars

Late blight

Blossom end rot

Physiological disorder due to calcium deficiency


Tomato is mature between 2½3 months after transplanting depending on the variety and environmental conditions 


Four maturity stages are recognized for tomatoes, i.e. breaker, light red, turning and pink:

Tomato ripening stages




Harvest is done at different stages depending on the market requirement and distance to the market  


Harvesting is done by hand by twisting and turning until the fruits snap off the vine

Harvesting should preferably done early in the morning when temperatures are cool

Put the harvested fruits into holding containers (plastic buckets)

The harvested fruits are put in a cool place e.g. in a shade

Harvesting should be done early in the morning or late in the evening since this is when the plant is turgid


Tomato will produce 25-100 tons per ha with proper management

Maturity stage


Storage, Transportation and marketing
Maintain cold chain at retail displays to maximize storage and shelf-life 


Tomatoes are placed into plastic or wooden crates in the field until they are transported to the market

Transportation is done by pick-ups, lorries and motorbikes

Tomatoes are packed in environmentally friendly canvass bags 1-1.5kg for sale at retail level

Other retail units include plastic containers 2-5kg, traditional baskets 2-5kg and heaps 3-5 fruits

Tomatoes are marketed in the fresh produce markets, supermarkets, retail shops, hotels, restaurants, institutions and food processing factories


Post-harvest handling
Transportation from farm to the market should be done early in the morning when temperatures are cool and care should be taken to avoid damaging the tomatoes 


Sorting is done to remove rotten, damaged, cracked and diseased fruits, and debris. Sorting limits spread of infection to healthy fruits during post-harvest handling

Grading is categorization of fruits on the basis of color, size and stage of maturity / degree of ripening


Tomato is processed into tomato sauce, juice