The tomato plant is native to South America (Peru and Ecuador) and was first domesticated in Mexico. It is one of the world’s major fresh and processed fruits. Tomato was introduced to cultivation in the Middle East around the end of the 18th century.
The crop is now by far the largest vegetable crop in Egypt. In 2008 the country ranked 5th in the world with 9.2 MT of tomatoes produced.
- S. lycopersicum
- Occurrence & Agricultural Importance in this Country:
- Cultivation Areas:
- Climate and soil diversity in Iraq makes it good for tomato production over the whole year through the use of modern cultivation techniques and hybrid seeds. In the winter, tomatoes is are produced in the desert area of al-Zubayr and Samawa and in spring from Diwaniya plantations, together with and Najaf and Karbala. In the summer, tomatoes are produced in the Kut areas, in Nu'maniyah and also areas of Diyala and Al khales. In autumn production is from Kirkuk, Mosul and Sinjar.
- Main Varieties:
- There are over 100 varieties varying in such aspects as shape, size, colour, time to maturity, their resistance to diseases and pests, their tolerance to different environmental conditions, their suitability for either fresh consumption or industrial processing.
- Marketing Information and Uses:
Tomato ranks first among vegetable crops in terms of planted area, production and consumption. Tomatoes are consumed either fresh or processed.
Tomatoes have significant nutritional value and are an important source of lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that acts as an anti-carcinogen. They also provide Vitamins A, B and C, potassium, iron and calcium.
- Tomato production in Iraq is challenging due to the lack of water resources, the high salinity of some irrigation water, a lack of suitable pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
- Crop Management:
Cultivation conditions and methods:
- Soil Type:
- Tomatoes can be successfully cultivated in a range of soils including sand and even heavy clay, provided that the medium is free of nematodes, wilt disease. The soil must be well drained. The tomato is tolerant to salinity and even a level of 2.5 EC gives good yield.
- Tomatoes need warm conditions with average temperature in (21-25) degree centigrade. Damage plants occur if the plant is exposed to low temperatures during growth or if the temperature exceeds 36C for a long period.
- Water Requirements:
Irrigation is used for most tomatoes. Furrow irrigation is commonly used in open field tomatoes.
Drip irrigation is mainly used in greenhouse production. Drip irrigation provides for good water management and allows hand harvesting at regular intervals.
- Nutrition Requirements:
- Tomato crops are stressful to soil and fertilizer amounts used must be carefully calculated depending on soil type, soil fertility and environmental conditions. Correct application of fertilizer, especially the nitrogen component determines plant development. For example, too much nitrogen when plants are small results in soft growth, small flower clusters and poor fruit set.
- Harvesting Period:
- Tomatoes may be harvested at the mature green stage, semi-ripe or fully ripe, depending on market requirements. First pick is usually 2-3 months after sowing and further harvesting is normally every three days.
- Harvesting Methods:
- All harvesting is by hand. Outdoors, in low technology systems, tomatoes are stacked in baskets. Tomatoes cultivated under protection (of higher value) are normally packaged more carefully in cartons.