Tree tomato farming in Kenya is growing at high speed in many parts of the country, which is currently being practiced in mount Kenya, Kisii, and some parts of western Kenya.
It originally came from South America where until today, the fruits are still grown on huge plantations.
In South America, it’s known as tamarillo which comes from the Solanaceae family. Tree tomato plants can grow up to 5metres in height.
The tree usually grows with one upright stem with lateral branches and leaves, whereas fruits after forming hang on those branches.
In areas where citrus fruits are grown, they have shown to perform so well in those climatic conditions.
The fruits look like tomatoes since they come from the same family of plants.
They can be eaten raw and also can be cooked. Tree tomato fruits are mainly used to make stew and appetizing salads.
Peak production is attained between 3 to 6 years though the life expectancy of the plant is more than 12 years.
Table of Contents
Tree tomato Varieties
There are different varieties of tree tomatoes which are mainly classified by their colour. Currently, there are three main varieties which are ;
- Dark-red or Black variety – The fruits when mature are big and of high quality.
- Yellow fruits variety – Fruits are well known for their good flavour thereby favourable for preservation.
- Red fruit variety – They are commonly grown in Kenya and are attractive in colour.
Tree tomato farming
Below are factors to consider before venturing into this activity.
For good optimum growth, the plants require well-drained soils, since water logging is unfavourable.
The plants do well in Ph of between 5 to 7.
600mm to 4000mm of rainfall is suitable for vigorous growth, although, in areas with minimal rainfall, irrigation is recommended.
The recommended temperature should be between 15 to 20 degrees centigrade. The plants are intolerant to frost and high temperatures above 30 degrees.
Tree tomatoes perfect exponentially well when grown at an altitude of between 1500 metres and 300 metres above sea level.
Planting of tree tomatoes
The most suitable and easy method is to start growing seedlings in a nursery bed, where they can take up to 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting.
Tree tomato spacing
The spacing between one plant and the other should be between 3 to 4 metres, while row spacing is slightly 4 to 5 metres.
The farm must always be free from any type of weed. This is done to prevent pests from destroying the plant. Moreover, weeds are plucked out from the farm to minimize nutrient competition.
Mulching is mainly practiced in areas where there is scarce or no rainfall to preserve moisture. Mulching also helps in weed suppression, excellent nutrient supply, and good maintenance of soil structure.
For optimum growth and early maturity of plants, regular watering of plants is a must. Lack or low water supply results in stunted growth and low-quality fruit production.
Due to the plant’s shallow root system, occasional strong winds may destroy their fragile stems thereby leading to low production. Hence it’s highly advisable to provide windbreakers on the farm to control strong winds.
Just like the normal tomatoes pruning is done to help in huge quality fruit production and good optimum growth.
Tree tomato pests
They are generally pests resistant but no exception to stubborn pests like; aphids, nematodes, and thrips whiteflies.
They are small black insects that are notorious for feeding on young shoots, especially on the lower leaf surface.
The attacked shoots become stunted and leaves appear curled and twisted which details photosynthesis.
How to control arphids on the farm
Applying below pesticides is the best way to control and remove them completely from your farm.
- KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20l
- PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20l
- PRESENTO 200SP 5g/20l
They are tiny white flies that affect the plant by yellowing leaves and eventually drying up.
How to control whiteflies
Apply any of below pesticides to completely eliminate them from the farm
- KINGCODE ELITE
They are microscopic tiny organisms that cause wilting of plants. They are best controlled by applying drenching pesticides which you can purchase from your local agro vet.
Tree tomato diseases
Tree tomato diseases are best controlled early enough since if allowed to prevail can cause serious destruction.
This disease is characterised by a show of whitish leaves and stems which if not controlled may cause wilting of plants.
When infestation occurs leaves get black spots on their leaves and eventually turn yellow.
Attacked leaves reduce in size while plant stunts in growth resulting in production of small low quality fruits.