Tips for Tomato Success

Kathryn Fontenot

Water consistently. Inconsistent water leads to blos­som end rot, a disorder that causes the blossom end of a tomato to rot.

Give tomato plants extra nitrogen at the first and second bloom set. 1 teaspoon of calcium nitrate or other 15 per­cent nitrogen source per plant is adequate. Nitrogen is the first number of the three listed on a bag of fertilizer. The number 15 indicates that the bag contains a product with 15 percent nitrogen.

Mulch tomatoes heavily to prevent weeds from growing under the plant. Mulching heavily also prevents soil from splashing onto the lower foliage. Soil that contacts foliage may introduce new diseases to the plant.

Space tomatoes 18 inches apart.

Prune the lower suckers on tomato plants. On determinate bush types, prune all suckers up to the first flower cluster. On indeterminate vining types, prune all suckers from the ground up to the third flower cluster. Pruning helps increase fruit size and opens the foliage canopy.

Harvest orange to light red tomatoes before heavy rain especially, if you are a home gardener or small grower not using plastic mulch. Heavy rain will cause maturing fruit to split.

Early blight, a disease that affects tomato foliage, is almost a definite problem every year. Spray copper fungicide on the bottom of foliage for the first two to three weeks tomatoes are in the ground to help delay problems.

If you aren’t growing tomatoes, you don’t know what you are missing. Home-grown, Louisiana-grown are the best! Try at least one plant this year.

Kathryn Fontenot is an assistant professor and extension specialist in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences.

7/19/2016 7:11:20 PM
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