Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Time for a Tall BLT

Posted by romeethredge on July 6, 2012

Tomatoes in the garden are great.  There’s not much to compare to a home grown tomato, picked fresh and eaten in the yard or in a BLT like I had yesterday.  I’ve never been able to reach up, however to pick a tomato, but this morning I saw the tallest tomato plants ever.  Jimmy Drake has been called the Tomato King of Donalsonville.  He has a nice garden here in town with all kinds of stuff including these tall plants that are producing well.  He has 92 tomato plants in all and some are 8 and a half feet tall.

He didn’t tell me any of his secrets of success in tomato production but here’s some things I’ve learned that will help you grow good tomatoes. Grow several different varieties including some that are resistant to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, TSWV, and other diseases.  Water evenly and apply gypsum for a calcium source to combat blossom end rot. Lime if needed ahead of time and fertilize well,  Treat for Early blight disease if needed(we’ve seen a good bit this year). Watch for whitish, yellowish speckling of leaves that may be spider mites, look on the back of leaf with magnification to look for them(a special insecticide for spider mites may be needed), watch for caterpillars and hand pick off or treat with insecticide.

Here’s some additional tomato production information from UGA.  Also there’s a link below to more information.

Tomatoes are warm-season plants that grow best at temperatures of 70 degrees to 80 degrees F and require six to eight hours of sunlight. Choose a sunny location that receives at least eight hours of sunlight each day.

Tomatoes prefer soil that is well-drained and amended heavily with organic matter. Rotted manures, compost, rotted sawdust or other humus can be tilled into the garden site as soon as the soils can be worked in the spring.

Tomatoes require a soil with a pH in the range of 6.2 to 6.8.

Give tomatoes a light amount of fertilizer at planting time. This can be accomplished by using a starter solution of fertilizer. Pour about 1 pint of starter solution (2 tablespoons of 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer dissolved in 1 gallon of water) around each plant.

If plants are to be staked or trellised, space them 24 inches apart in rows 4 to 6 feet apart. Although it requires more work initially, staking makes caring for tomatoes easier and keeps the plant’s leaves from contacting the ground and possibly introducing disease. This in turn produces higher quality fruit

Tomatoes are medium feeders and will require fertilizer beyond the initial starter solution. It’s best to soil test through your local county extension office to find out the actual requirements for your soil. In the absence of a soil test, incorporate 1.5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for 100 square feet of bed prior to planting. Use a complete fertilizer that contains minor nutrients. After  the first tomatoes form on the vine and are about the size of a quarter, side-dress them with 10-10-10 at the rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet of bed. Repeat every three to four weeks until harvest is completed.

If a liquid soluble fertilizer solution is used, be careful not to apply too much or too frequently as this can lead to excess nitrogen. This is a common problem causing vigorous vegetative shoot growth but few blooms or fruit.

Tomatoes need about 1 to 2 inches of water per week depending on the type of soil they are growing in. If rainfall does not provide this quantity, water plants thoroughly once or twice per week. One or two heavy soakings are better than many light sprinklings.

Consider using drip irrigation or soaker hoses around your plants. These methods will help conserve moisture and avoid getting the foliage wet which can cause disease

http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7803

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