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How to apply tomato fertilizers for best yields

Like animals, crop production depends on the ability of crops to utilize the needed and available micro and macronutrients in the soil. Poor fertile soil with a physical structure that inhibits the absorption of nutrients equals poor yields. Therefore for high production, one has to work first on soil structure and then improve on soil fertility by applying the correct tomato fertilizers.

Good soil must have a fine texture, good capillarity and drainage with high organic matter. To improve on this, apply farmyard manure at the rate of 12 tons per acre. However, farmyard manures are slow releasers and need to be enhanced with artificial fertilizers.

Depending on the intended purpose of the crop produced, different fertilizers are applied at different rates and at various stages. Tomatoes are high feeders and a deficiency in any nutrient will lead to loss or poor production.

What to apply at different stages
Week 0-4 Seedbed

At this stage, the seedlings use the food stored in the cotyledon or endosperm of the seed. For faster growth and strong seedlings, the medium should have high fertility.

Week 4-6 Transplanting

Before transplanting your tomatoes, add 2kgs of well-decomposed manure per hole, mix with the topsoil and plant. On the seventh day, top dress with Di-ammonium of phosphate D.A.P; 50gms per crop. D.A.P has a high level of phosphorus and nitrogen. Phosphorus helps with root development while nitrogen helps in vegetative growth.

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Week 6-8 Vegetative growth

At this stage, the roots are well developed and stems and leaves are growing vigorously. One or two crops may start flowering also.

Top dress with Nitrogen Phosphorus and Potassium N.P.K fertilizers. Nitrogen plays a critical role in the physiological functions of the plant; phosphorus maintains sustainable root development while potassium helps in the movement of water and nutrients in the plant.

Apply N.P.K 50 grams per crop twice a month.

Week 8-10 Flowering and fruiting

To enhance flowering and fruiting start by topdressing with N.P.K and calcium of ammonia C.A.N at a ratio of 1:1. Calcium will help in preventing blossom end rot and enhance root development. Then top-dress with C.A.N after two weeks of applying C.A.N and N.P.K at a rate of 50gms per crop.

In the event of flower abortion, one can apply foliar fertilizers with Boron such as Omex foliar. Yaraliva nitrabor is recommended.

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Week 12 Harvesting

At the onset of harvesting, for outdoor (determinate) tomatoes there is no need of applying any fertilizers as it will only increase costs. For greenhouse (indeterminate) tomatoes continue applying calcium of ammonia C.A.N fertilizers after every two weeks until the end of harvesting.

In the spirit of lowering costs, applying foliar fertilizers that are perceived to enhance flowering only increases costs and do not help in any way. According to plant physiology absorption of macro and micronutrients takes place majorly on the roots. The leaf stomata cannot allow absorption as the roots can do.

The soils should always be wet before applying the fertilizers. Caution should be taken to avoid plant scorch. Do not touch the stems or leaves with the same hands applying fertilizers.

Recommended fertilizers;

YaraMilla Winner is a high-quality compound NPK with 15% Nitrogen, 9% Phosphorus, and 20% Potassium.

Yara Liva Nitrabor is a unique calcium nitrate fertilizer with additional Boron for responsive crops with 15.4% Nitrogen, 26% Calcium Oxide and 0.3% Boron.

Chapa Meli Microp topdressing fertilizer is a standard D.A.P with 18% Nitrogen and 46% Phosphorus.

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