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:
- Syria, with around 900 thousand tons, is a significant tomato producer.
Tomato production is extremely important to farmers in Syria as an important source of income due to its high productivity and relatively low cost. Moderate temperatures in Syria allow growers to produce tomato in open fields. Also, due to the mild climate in the coastal area, unheated greenhouses can be used, although climate control is widely practiced. These covered tomato plantations are important for export earnings. Tomato production is one of the fastest growing crops in Syrian horticulture; it increased more than 30% through 1994-2003 (from 426KT to 923KT).
In 2003, approximately 17.1 thousand hectares were seeded (14.3 thousand hectares in open field and 2.8 thousand hectare in greenhouses). This is actually a lower surface figure than in the past, but increased efficiency of production has compensated, especially since more tomatoes are being grown in greenhouses, while they have sharply declined in open fields.
For climatic reasons, Tartous and Lattakia are the dominant producing regions during the winter months. Together, they supply as much as 98.6% of protected tomatoes. Open field tomato is cultivated all over Syria, but it is concentrated in Dara’a, Aleppo, Al-Hassaké, and Quneitra.
- Main Varieties:
- There are a number of varieties cultivated in Syria. However, the mostly common include: Sunrise, Shady lady, Shaheen, Supper Queen, Variety 777, I S 55, Golden landside, Robest, CPC-2, Sion x, Marmand, and Claudia Ref.. The most important varieties cultivated inr greenhouses are: Speedy hybrid, Katia, Amazon, Alona, and Florence.
The most important tomato processing varieties are; Sunrise, Speedy, Syring, and Supper red.
- Marketing Information and Uses:
- The consumption of tomato in Syria increased by 111 percent between 1994-2002 with an annual growth rate of 12.4 %. The Syrian per capita consumption of tomato was approximately 41.1 Kg, in 2002. Tomato is consumed either fresh or processed and most domestically produced tomatoes find their way into Syrian markets.
- The majority of field tomato production is located to the growing domestic market. The production is split between local consumption, processing, and export. Most protected tomatoes are exported, while most field tomatoes are locally consumed; the rest is either processed or exported to neighboring countries.
Tomatoes are commonly distributed at wholesale markets. The wholesalers receive tomatoes from producers and repack for retail delivery. This traditional distribution system suffers from a lack of adequate cold storage and ineffective packing materials which contributes to degradation of a significant volume of the product.
- Crop Management:
Cultivation conditions and methods:
- Soil Type:
- Successful cultivation of tomato in all soil types of yellow sand to heavy black provided drainage is good. It has been found that poor drainage land caused significant damage to plants, especially at the time of flowering. Any soil types have particular properties, the tomato cultivation in light land can obtain early production, for the possibility of early transplanting in this light land , on the one hand, and because the speed of plant growth in the light land than in heavy land, on the second hand. Also, the length of the growing season and harvesting in the light land shorter than heavy land, cultivation tomato in heavy land use to give large production and a long growth season. And the ability of organic matter in the soil is necessary for taking a large production. It is understood that the tomato plants rooted more deeply than 120 cm so it's not successful cultivation of this crop in the surface land. Proper soil acidity number ranges for the growth of tomato plants (5.5 - 7). Tomato plants moderately tolerant saline soils. Take care when choosing land for cultivation of tomatoes that are free of weeds, especially perennials and non-infested by crop pests such as wilt and nematode roots as well as the Orbanche.
- 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 Syrian 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.
- Harvesting Period:
- Winter harvest is possible in the coastal region of the country. Syrian tomatoes are mainly harvested in July, August, and October, but some producers grow early or late harvesting varieties to get higher prices for their products. Tomatoes are therefore available in Syria around the whole year. Tomatoes for fresh consumption are planted from February to June and are harvested from mid-June to late October
- Harvesting Methods:
- Hand picking