The tomato is a dicotyledon which belongs to the solanaceous family and which is referred to scientifically as Lycopersicumesculentum. It is a perennial bush-like plant with branches which generally tend to be simpodial.
The leaves are imparipinnate leaves made up of 7 to 9 leaflets. The flowers are grouped together in compound inflorescents of a racemous type, which are found in groups of 4 to 12 flowers.
The fruit is a globular shaped berry, which varies in weight between 5 and 500g, depending on the crop. The root system is made up of: the main root, secondary roots and the adventitious root. 70% of the roots are to be found at a depth of 20cm from the surface.
In general, optimum conditions for growth and development of the plant vary between 20 ēC and 30ēC during the day and 12ēC to 17ēC at night. In addition, relative humidity should be between 60 % and 80%. Greenhouse planting of tomatoes takes place using seedlings which come from seedbeds.
The planting stage depends mainly on factors such as temperature, humidity and the variety being grown. The transplant of permanent soil takes place at 30-35 days after planting in seedbeds, when the plant shows three correctly formed leaves and a well formed root system in the root ball.
In order to be able to transplant, holes are made. Once the root ball is in place it is covered with soil and watered which strengthens the plants and facilitates their taking root. The settings for normal planting are 1.5m between the lines and 0.5m between plants. However, this will depend upon the variety being grown as the settings for planting with regard to medium sized plants could be reduced.
Tomatoes prefer loose soils with a siliceous clay texture, rich in organic material and with a pH between 5 and 7. On the other hand, it is the kind of tomatoes grown in greenhouses which tolerate saline conditions best; whether this is due to the salinity of the soil or the salt level of the water used.
With respect to protected crops, the amounts of water and nutrients are supplied in a general way via drip irrigation and this will depend on the phenological condition of the plant. Once the plant has taken root, and thereafter until the first fruit is formed, the irrigation points should be placed at the maximum distance possible. The objective being to allow the root system to penetrate as far down into the soil as possible.