Tree tomato

Crop Management

Crop management of Tree Tomotoes

1.1. Mulching

Mulching is a popular agronomic practice in agriculture and it has many advantages which include: to prevent loss of soil moisture, to control weeds by shading them and diseases by preventing soil contact with the plant foliage, to control soil temperature, either by keeping it cool or keeping it warm, to add to soil fertility and increase soil organic matter content when organic mulch is used and decay takes place (AVRDC, 1990)

1.2. Irrigation

Tamarillo plants are sensitive to drought. Lack of water limits plant growth, fruit size and yields. It is likely that tamarillo plants will need irrigation during dry periods and peak growth times. Water should reach right through the root zone. How regularly you need to irrigate will depend on how well your soil holds moisture, and the time of year. It is a good idea to get advice about the most suitable irrigation for your situation.

1.3. Weeding

Weed control is also important as some weeds such as chickweed and deadly nightshade can harbour viruses that infect tamarillos. Weeds also compete for light, water and nutrients especially when tamarillos are young.

1.4. Pruning

Tall plants grown from seed should be cut back at planting. Prune the main stem to about 0.5m to promote branching lower on the tree (they naturally branch at about 2m). However, plants grown from cuttings are likely to grow with many low branches. These may need to be removed so the plant branches far enough above the ground. Regular removing of waterspouts is important so as improve on aeration in crop canopy.

Fruit is produced on the current season’s growth. Pruning helps to balance total yield and fruit size. On un-pruned plants, fruit is produced further and further out on the branch each season. This leaves old growth in the middle without fruit. Old growth is weak; so un-pruned branches may break, reducing overall yield.

When pruning, you should remove old, dead and diseased wood.

1.5. Fertilization

The light, well drained soils that tamarillo plants grow best on often have problems with nutrient leaching and may not be very naturally fertile. It is recommended that you test the soil at your chosen site for nutrients and that any lacking nutrients are applied before you plant your crop.

Tamarillo plants respond well to high levels of organic manure and have a high requirement for nitrogen, potassium and magnesium in particular.                   It may also be necessary to apply phosphorus as some soils are very low in available phosphate. Once soil nutrients are at a reasonable level it is recommended that you apply potassium and phosphate annually and nitrogen several times throughout the growing season.

It is recommended to apply 25-30T/ha of organic manure at the time of planting. The nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium required per year are 100:100:100kg/ha which makes about 600kg of NPK 17-17-17. This mineral fertilizer is applied into 3 splits: at planting, 3 month and 6 months after planting. For the following years, the recommended NKP is also given into 3 splits at 4 months intervals.