Ravi7009
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How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?

How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?
How much planting distance? Fertigation?
Precautions to take??

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?

What makes you think this is possible?

Here's some estimates I found:

"Field grown fresh market tomatoes can be planted at densities of 3,200–5,700 plants per acre if unstaked or, 2,400–3,200 plants per acre if staked. Processing tomatoes which are grown unstaked can be planted at densities of 4,000–4,800 plants per acre." http://articles.extension.org/pages/186 ... c-tomatoes Estimates of production per plant vary widely from 5 to 20 lbs. Using a fairly generous estimate of 15 # per plant and 5000 plants per acre gives you a maximum yield of 75000# = 37.5 tons.

This http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G6370 gives estimates of anywhere from 36,300 # to 58,080# per acre which is 18 to 29 tons per acre.

The highest estimate I saw was for a brand new tomato variety bred to be very high yielding: "New tomato variety that yields 19 kg a plant" http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/agricu ... 113247.ece It is reputed to yield 38 metric tonnes per acre = 42 US tons.

So what makes you think you can produce more than double the highest reputed yield per acre?

If you are a backyard grower growing in say 8x4 foot raised beds, you can probably baby a few plants along enough to produce what would be a very high yield if multiplied out to an acre equivalent (but still not 100 tons per acre). But that is not the same as actually getting an acre to produce that much.

Another way to look at this is to break it down to pounds per square foot. 100 tons = 200,000 pounds. An acre = 43560 sq feet. So 100 tons per acre = 4.59 lbs per sq foot. But very close spacing of tomatoes is one for four square feet. So 4 x 4.59 18.4 lbs. So to get 100 tons per acre you would have to plant 10,890 tomato plants in the acre (1 per 4 sq ft) which is more than double the highest recommended planting density. Then they would have to produce 18.4 pounds per plant which is more than any but the highest yielding plants can produce. The close spacing of one for four sq ft comes from the square foot gardening folks who do that by creating their own highly enriched growing medium, with no actual soil in it. You can't do that for an acre. So your inputs of fertilizer, water, etc etc would be very high and expensive. And tomatoes grown like that would be very vulnerable to diseases and pests. So you would also have very high inputs of pesticides, fungicides, etc. Also very expensive.

And if you work on pushing quantity past all normal limits, you will do it at the expense of quality. What you would end up with would likely be big, bland, watery, tasteless tomatoes ....
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tomc
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Re: How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?

Less yield than that RBG, the more you ramp up nitrogen, the more likely you are to just get top growth and not more fruit.
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Allyn
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Re: How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?

I was born and raised in South Jersey and my family grew tomatoes for Campbell's Soup back in the day, so really I only keep tabs on Jersey tomatoes. Last numbers I've seen were from 2000. High-tech farms in NJ that grow tomatoes for the packing houses produce an average yield per acre of about 25 tons. I'm sure if they could realistically grow more, they would.

I can't speak to California where I know that Campbell's has some impressive processing facilities. The underground drip irrigation they encourage the farmers to use cost about $1,000 per acre to install but it reduces water consumption, saves on fertilizer and helps boost their tomato yields. How much the yields are, I don't know, but I'll wager it's a lot less than 100 tons per acre.

imafan26
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Re: How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?

That's a lot of tomatoes. If you plant them close you have to trellis and prune them to get more yield per square foot but with higher labor costs. If you let them sprawl you will have more fruit, but fruit on the ground may have more damage. If you plant the tomatoes more or less at the same time, you will have to pick and harvest all those tomatoes and market them. Depending on variety some tomatoes keep and ship better than others.

Why do you want to plant a ton of tomatoes anyway?
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applestar
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Re: How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?

Wow, it seems pretty devastatingly impossible, given the facts and figures already provided.

As a thought exercise maybe you could eventually if you have a long season or extend the growing season in early spring and fall with hoop tunnels and succession plant high production determinates? Can you be growing the seedlings and replacement plants off-site of the 1 acre or does that have to be included?

If you had an acre to dedicate to growing tomatoes, would you be able to @imafan, since you can grow year-round? But then from your other gardening reports, it sounds like there are a lot of problems associated with growing tomatoes in your climate....
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imafan26
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Re: How to grow 100 ton tomatoes per acre?

I only grow three tomatoes and a few wild ones pop up on their own. I don't need more but I have not gotten more than 30 lbs from my tomatoes if they were anywhere near good because of disease and especially because of birds and slugs going after the fruit.

At the farm we have a tomato house and a cucumber house. We have 60 liter pots and 720 tomatoes possible if all pots are used. This is an aquaponic system so there is cinder in the pots and water fed from the fish tanks. Fish and bone meal are added to the pots when the tomatoes are planted and side dressed monthly. Seeds are started on the mist bench. It takes about 4 months to go from seed to harvestable fruit. Yield is determined by variety. We get much better yields growing a productive grape variety and much less from growing beefsteak type tomatoes. Plants are spaced about 2-3 ft apart and they are trained on a string trellis. It is very labor intensive to prune to a string trellis. All of the suckers have to be removed and they have to be clipped every two weeks. Removing suckers will also remove the trusses that would otherwise grow but the remaining fruit will be larger. Downy and powdery mildew, whiteflies, aphids, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers , rats and mongoose are all problems to have to deal with. Moth can still get in and caterpillars become a problem. Birds occasionally get in and they can be hard to chase out, because the workers don't understand why there are two doors to the greenhouse in the first place. Grown organically, they have to be sprayed weekly with neem and the worst of the plants have to be culled. Lady bugs are released into the greenhouse but they don't last long in a house with only one plant family and no nectary plants, no way for beneficials to get in, and the reduced air circulation compared to outside. Once disease and pests goes past the tipping point, all of the plants have to be removed, the house sanitized and started over. We can also have problems if the water pump fails or the filters clog so water does not flow to the greenhouse and whole rows will be impacted not just a single plant. Tomatoes in the shade house have similar problems except that it has better air flow, but the rain can get in and the birds will tear the nets open or go under the netting to get in. Fruit flies and moths can also get in and that causes more problems with the fruit.

In the past we had only one hot house for tomatoes and cucumber and we did it 50/50 we would plant everything at once and we had good yields of both until pests and disease (usually aphids) made the plants unproductive. Then everything would be cleaned out and started over. Which meant that during that time there were no tomatoes or cukes to sell. Feast and famine. 8 new hothouses were built in the last year. Most of them are for more hydro lettuce production. One of the houses (bigger than the old tomato house) is now dedicated to cucumbers using an experimental autopot watering system. We are trying succession planting in the tomato and cucumber houses to get a more consistant supply. The problem remains that we still have a build up of pests over time and planting new seedlings next to infested plants shortens the life of the new crop. We could plant year round so we do have potentially higher annual yields but I don't think we would yield 100 tons per acre without some very high operational costs for labor to trellis and clip, harvesting, and pest management and some very disease resistant and productive tomatoes.
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