Crop Talk: Tomatoes
Let’s talk tomatoes. Almost no other crop screams “summer” like a vine-ripened tomato straight off the plant. Whether it’s a full-on beefsteak or a handful of colorful cherries, that first harvest of the season is the moment farmer and consumer alike have been waiting for since January.
At High Mowing, we’ve put together a solid collection of resources for organic growers seeking the perfect tomato crop, and we want to take this opportunity to share it with you. Read on to discover more about growing information and cultural tips for organic tomato production.
Greenhouse versus open field. If you’re limited in your real estate, it may be an easy choice. Where you grow greatly impacts how your plants will grow: the probability of disease, the quality of the soil, your labor budget, and your customer demand should all be taken into consideration when deciding whether to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse or in the field, or both. Our expanded selection of tomatoes has high performing varieties for both production methods. For those growing in protected culture, click here to read about our top recommendations for greenhouse tomatoes.
Trellising and pruning. It never hurts to refine your trellising and pruning techniques, especially if you have to teach them to others when your field crew arrives for the harvest season. Read our blog post about the different trellising options based on your production scale. Perfecting your techniques will increase your efficiency, and help you pass on your skills to others when the rush of the season hits and your expertise is needed everywhere at once.
Diagnose. For all the joy they bring, tomatoes also seem to be particularly adept at attracting pests and diseases that can dishearten growers in a matter of just a few days. From blossom drop to tomato hornworms, there’s a lot to keep an eye out for when tending to this high-profit crop. For resources on diagnosing plant troubles, we are particularly fond of the comprehensive resource list put together by the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association which includes links to regional extension resources for quick and easy pathogen and pest diagnoses.
Prevention and Mitigation. Depending on your production systems, organic prevention and mitigation techniques can range from as long term as crop rotation and cover cropping to repeated copper applications for mitigating tomato blight. For an overview of disease prevention practices in high tunnel production, check out our comprehensive blog post on that very topic. Then brush up on your mitigation techniques with some of our favorite pest and disease resources for organic growers.
Take notes. Luckily, whether you prefer to grow robust, disease-resistant hybrids in high tunnels, or a smattering of delicious heirlooms out in the field, High Mowing’s deep bench of organic tomato varieties has you covered. But even we’ll admit that not every tomato variety will grow well in every setting – as you tweak your systems and adjust your variety preferences, take note of what performed exceptionally well in your production system. The more you know, the more you can improve upon in the following season, and the closer you’ll get to that perfect tomato crop.