The tomato is a very important crop in South Africa as it is a very popular household food. South Africa is a major regional producer in Sub-Saharan Africa (FAOSTAT, 2014). Understanding the basic principles of tomato cultivation will enable the participant to successfully produce tomatoes and/or act as a service provider in the tomato production industry.
Tomatoes are one of the three most important vegetable crops produced and consumed in South Africa. Due to the different climatic zone in South Africa, tomatoes can be produced throughout the year in certain areas, while tunnel or even shade net cultivation is advisable in other areas. This makes tomato cultivation very versatile and interesting, but also challenging. The aim of this programme is to introduce the students to the basics of tomatoes in terms of morphology, growth requirements (climate and soil), insect, disease and weed challenges and harvesting. With this background, we will then assess how the environment in which the students operate can be manipulated through certain agronomic practices to alleviate biotic and abiotic stresses in that environment, resulting in optimum crop yields.
The students may have a very good knowledge and understanding of the chemical solutions to insects, diseases and weeds, and therefore may miss out on the broader picture as to why these problems occur and alternatives that could assist in solving them. By attending this short learning programme, you will become more aware of how to interpret the problems you need to solve based on the crop’s unique make-up and inherent solutions.
We will not only be discussing tomato production in the open field, but will also touch on the most important factors of tunnel produced tomatoes. In South Africa where water is scarce, tunnel production can provide a viable alternative. This information will enable the students to feel comfortable working in this ‘artificial’ production environment.
MSA Competency based short learning programme
A National Senior Certificate or equivalent NQF level 4 qualification with appropriate experience. The participant must also show competence in the understanding of crop morphology, physiology and cultivation, as well as an understanding of basic integrated pest management principles.
Dr Marais is a senior lecturer and researcher in Agronomy in the Department of Plant Production and Soil Science at the University of Pretoria. She has been involved in the education and research of various aspects of Agronomy as it relates to vegetables, as well as grain and industrial crops, since 1996. Her research focused mainly on field crops such as maize, cotton and vegetables (in particular tomatoes and peppers). She is the author and co-author of several articles and is a member of the South African Association for Crop Production.