Profitability of summer vegetables

WITH continuous building up in inhabitants, Pakistan is dealing with meals safety downside since its independence since the primary focal point of coverage makers has remained on staple meals plants. On the other hand, such supplies don’t meet the nutritional requirement of folks, in particular those dwelling in rural areas.

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In this kind of scenario, there’s a need to diversify our cropping development from mono-cropping to enterprises which offer crucial vitamins in a brief length of time. Such enterprises providing dietary nutrients at a inexpensive rate are vegetables. But the adoption of vegetables at business stage isn’t enough due to lack of expertise of various stakeholders and small percentage of cropped space beneath vegetable cultivation.

Therefore, the in keeping with capita, in line with day intake of vegetable is sort of half of the really useful degree of 200 grams according to individual per day. Besides providing the most important nutritional nutrients, greens generate some distance higher income than other plants similar to wheat, cotton, and many others. and low-micronutrient staple food and so they help to fortify the productiveness and sustainability of the cereal-based production machine.

So, there is a great demand of labour for various agronomic practices and thus, vegetable cultivation generates higher employment at the farm stage than cereals.

Vegetable production could also be influenced through the positioning of farms because of the fact that farms as regards to enter market are in a greater place to buy other inputs similar to seed, fertilizer, and so on. at the appropriate time. On the opposite hand, most of the greens are perishable in nature and be afflicted by much less loss if produced close to the marketplace.

Keeping in view all such factors, the present find out about have been designed to decide the profitability of summer greens at the foundation of farm location and its impact on vegetable yield. This learn about will lend a hand the stakeholders, particularly coverage makers to make the neatly managed selections in regards to the formulation of long run strategies for the improvement of the livelihood of vegetable growers.

Methods: Vegetables are usually grown in two seasons i.e. summer time and winter. Selection of summer vegetables is performed depending upon their focus in several areas of the Punjab. The find out about used to be confined to the Punjab province just for three summer time greens (bitter gourd, muskmelon and tinda gourd) that are present in Faisalabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Leiah, Khanawal, and Bahawalpur.

The primary function of the study was once to estimeate the price of production and to determine the profitability of selected vegetables. The cost incurred on land preparation via farmers just about marketplace used to be considerably upper as compared to that of some distance from market, since worth in keeping with tractor hour was once top as regards to town in all three greens. In cases where sour gourd, tinda gourd and muskmelon had been planted on raised beds, the time ate up to prepare the beds was once additionally included in the tractor hours.

The selection and amount of seed used to be a very powerful factor for achieving prime yield of greens. The costs concerned with the usage of the seed amongst each categories were different. In case of on the subject of market the cost of seed was Rs984.85, Rs167.13 and Rs335.64 for bitter gourd, tinda gourd and muskmelon, respectively. While in case of a long way from market, the price of seed involved was Rs890.30, Rs171.44 and Rs361.08 for the respective vegetables.

Costs involved within the purchase utility of farmyard manure have been Rs369.54, Rs111.98 and Rs182.71 for sour gourd, tinda gourd and muskmelon, respectively on the basis of with reference to market, while in case of some distance from marketplace the prices serious about applying the farmyard manure have been Rs389.54, 249.28 and 98.68 for the respective vegetables. Most of the sampled farmers used somewhat huge quantity of nitrogenous fertilizers. It indicated the lack of information of the farmers about various nutrients required by means of the crop.

The price desirous about making use of fertilizer through just about marketplace was once Rs1830.88, Rs524.92 and Rs2569.82 for tinda gourd bitter gourd and muskmelon respectively. While in case of a ways from market the above value was once Rs2190.26, Rs594.24 and Rs2110.26 for those 3 greens. Sufficient and timely irrigating a crop improves the yield in step with acre of any crop. Because greens wanted extra irrigation that was why the costs serious about making use of the irrigation was once high relatively than different plants.

The price curious about irrigation was also higher at the respondents’ farms with regards to marketplace as compared to that of far from marketplace. Vegetables are extra delicate to insect and illness assaults. Similarly, other costs incurred on plant coverage measure, labour, transportation and land rent were a ways higher on the farms near to market than the ones of a ways from market in all greens

Gross income from the cultivation of summer time vegetables was upper on farms almost about market as in comparison to those a ways from the market. The net income per kg was Rs2.75, 1.27 and zero.73 for respective greens in case of farmers just about market, while in case of farmers some distance from the market the online income in step with kg used to be Rs2.33, zero.59 and nil.32.

Fertilizer is every other vital input that enhances vegetable yield substantially when carried out at proper time. Statistically meaningful coefficients were made up our minds for all 3 vegetables. However, proportion effect of fertilizer used to be upper in case of muskmelon as compared to sour gourd and tinda gourd because these vegetables needed fewer quantities of inorganic vitamins as compared to muskmelon.

Dummy variable for farm measurement had an anticipated unfavorable sign showing that as farm size larger, vegetable yield decreased. This used to be due the fact that vegetable cultivation required an enormous amount of financial assets at various phases of production whereas the vegetable growers may just now not find the money for such expenditures as farm size larger. For sour growing farms, this coefficient was statistically non-significant.

Suggestions: Following suggestions are made for increasing the yield of summer season vegetables:

  • Summer vegetable cultivation wishes right kind amount of irrigation water at different levels. Results of production serve as indicate that with greater use of irrigation, vegetable yield would increase substantially. Therefore, it is suggested that the farmers will have to make extra and considered use of irrigation water.
  • Vgetable growers use the inorganic vitamins beneath the really useful level because of monetary constraints. The results of manufacturing serve as display that fertilizer is significantly expanding vegetable yield. On the foundation of those effects, the vegetable growing farmers can building up the yield in step with acre through making use of more fertilizer.
  • Vegetables are delicate to illnesses and bugs attacks. Diagnosis of illness and insect attack at the right time is the foremost part in crop control practices. A delay will motive disaster to the crop and in the end the producer will suffer from this disaster. After prognosis, the choice and dose of pesticide required for explicit assault is the next step in crop management. Consulting with extension group of workers or some other specialist would possibly help in the appropriate collection of pesticide.
  • The illness and pest assaults are one of the major constraints in vegetable manufacturing. For chemical control of major sicknesses and insect pest attacks the farmers must observe the recommendation of the Agriculture Department of the Punjab province. Timely, suitable and considered use of pesticide can assist in controlling the above mentioned constraints. Use of resistant or tolerant types of greens can be viable alternative for farmers for controlling bugs or illnesses.
  • Weeds in any crop negatively have an effect on the production. That’s why the vegetable growers the usage of more collection of labour hours for weeding and hoeing were given higher yields. Herbicides the use of for weed regulate is an expensive method. Alternative to weed regulate with herbicides include crop rotation, cautious and well timed cultivation, intercropping to out-compete weeds and many others.
  • The process of data alternate and communication among researchers, extension group of workers and farmers will depend on adequate and well timed actions within the area involved. Critical to the invention, building, and alertness of recent and resource-efficient farming techniques and applied sciences is their characterization and interpretation in phrases which can also be easily understood and implemented by farmers.
  • Marketing as an institution must be established on fashionable strains within the country. Vegetable growers should have get admission to to a large number of customers. In towns, right kind wholesale advertising and marketing gadget will have to be established. The delivery infrastructure is any other restricting issue in the advertising and marketing of greens. As those are perishable commodities, delivery infrastructure should be reinforced.
  • As discussed previous, vegetable cultivation needs extra price range to buy inputs and perform more than a few farm activities. On the other hand, vegetable growers possess small chew of landholding, subsequently, they’ve lack of financial sources. So, these farmers need instant consideration of the involved government.

Reducing post-harvest vegetable losses

VEGETABLES, regardless that, handiest 2d to staple when placed on nationwide meals security checklist, are going through enormous problems which are causing fall in production, and their post-harvest losses, already alarmingly top, are increasing.

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Value addition trade, which is helping keep an eye on those losses and earns additional money for the sector, is sort of non-existent. Hybrid era is yet to be introduced in the vegetables seed sector.

There has been no step forward even in conventional seed era or managments pactices, which could lend a hand the sector develop. These are one of the primary issues, otherwise the record can still pass on further.

All this is going on regardless of increasing population and multiplying nationwide demand for greens yearly. The rising hole between call for and provide keeps emerging.

The emerging price development is additional fueled through receding writ of the federal government, where each and every vendor is authorized to fix his/her personal costs and fleece the deficient.

National statistics of greens production tells the tale how the secor is being allowed to sink in the mire. During the Kharif 2005-06, vegetable production stood at 1.2 milion heaps. It dropped to underneath 1,000,000 tons in next 4 years (2009-10).

Similarly, Rabi (2005-06) manufacturing of vegetable crops, which used to be 2.2 million tons, came down to 2 million lots remaining yr (2009-10). (These figures exclude potato and onion manufacturing). During these four years, population grew and the call for for vegetable increased.

How the officialdom deals with the sector is obvious from the initiative Punjab took ultimate December, when vegetable costs shot throughout the roof within the province — proud producer of 65 in keeping with cent vegetables within the nation.
The Punjab chief minister announced a provincial plan to double vegetable production and produce prices down to part within the subsequent three-four months through sowing them on all available land beneath the provincial govt and reinforce provide facet control.

A media campaign followed, and an preliminary allocation of Rs2.7 million used to be made. The time for the undertaking is already up, but not a unmarried penny has been relased so far. No one in authentic circles even mentions the plan, which received so much attention 4 months in the past.

The nation wishes to extend production through developing new seeds and applied sciences. The maximum very important step is to make stronger seeds pool of more or less 30 vegetables that are produced in Rabi and Kharif seasons. Most countries on the earth including India, did it long ago, and were reaping the benefit. They no longer simplest progressed their conventional seed inventory, but in addition went into hybrid, which simply multiplied their manufacturing.

Pakistan, alternatively, remains to be to inspire such a initiative — each on conventional seeds and hybrid. That is why no local corporate has dared into vegetable hybrid seed but. All the so-called greens hybrid seeds, that are nonetheless scant in use, are coming from the Far East and no one is aware of about the parentage and gene strenght of those seeds. The country is risking so-called hybrid seeds despite struggling badly on cotton, because untested hybrid seed import for years. It now appears to be repeating the mistake on other fronts.

In addition to multiplying yield through hybrid seeds, they also advanced, what is referred to as, ‘stay green’ think about seeds. This issue delays over-maturing process, and vegetable stays inexperienced and usable on the plant for longer period. It gives farmer time to stagger harvesting and sale of the crop. In our nation, with the use of conventional seed, the crop, as soon as matured, very quickly over-matures and rots, generating force on farmers to reap and sell it right away.

It robs the farmer of any manoeuvrebility in time for harvesting and sale. The stay inexperienced seeds are common on this planet now, and there is not any explanation why we should now not benefit from this leap forward.

In the country, essential research has stalled on almost all vegetable seeds, leave on my own trying to bring in new factors like keep inexperienced. That is where the government must work.

The executive can lend a hand the field and farmers a great deal via controlling post-harvest losses, which might be ranging between 35 -40 consistent with cent. If the government can construct cool chain infrastructure, it can deliver losses down to five to 10 consistent with cent, improving national provides by a substantial 30 to 35 per cent. That convey the costs down for city dwellers, alleviate poverty in rural spaces and spice up vegetable exports.

Luckily, maximum plants are produced right here in geographical clusters. Over 80 per cent potato is produced in one district in Punjab; whole citrus crop is concentrated in Sargodha department, and whole mango is produced in southern Punjab. It makes it more straightforward to broaden infrastructure to keep an eye on post-harvest losses and save the average man from emerging prices, which are now spinning beyond their monetary succeed in.

Vegetables nursery business startup feasibility

1         DISCLAIMER

This information memorandum is to introduce the subject matter and provide a general idea and information on the subject. Although, the material included in this document is based on data / information generated from experiments and field testing by a team of relevant scientists; however, it is based upon certain assumptions which may differ from case to case. The contained information may vary due to any change in any of the concerned factors, and the actual results may differ accordingly from the presented information. The PARC and its employees do not assume any liability for any financial or other loss resulting from this memorandum in consequence of undertaking this activity. The prospective user of this memorandum is encouraged to contact qualified consultant/technical expert, especially designated focal person(s) of this enterprise for reaching to an informed decision.

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2         PURPOSE OF DOCUMENT

The purpose of this document is to facilitate potential investors in vegetable nursery raisingby providing them with a general understanding of the business, with the intention of supporting potential investors in crucial investment decisions. The project pre-feasibility may form the basis of an important investment decision and in order to serve this objective, the document/study covers various aspects of project concept development, start-up, production, finance, and business management.  The need to come up with pre-feasibility reports for undocumented or minimally documented sectors attains greater imminence as the research that precedes such reports reveal certain thumb rules; best practices developed by existing enterprises by trial and error, certain industrial norms and well established research findings that become a guiding source regarding various aspects of business set-up and it’s successful management. Apart from carefully studying the whole document, one must consider critical aspects provided later on, which form the basis of investment decisions.

3         INTRODUCTION TO SCHEME

Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Programme, for young entrepreneurs, with an allocated budget of Rs. 5.0 Billion for the year 2013-14, is designed to provide subsidized financing at 8% mark-up per annum for one hundred thousand (100,000)beneficiaries, through designated financial institutions, initially through National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and First Women Bank Ltd. (FWBL). Loans from Rs. 0.1 million to Rs. 2.0 million with tenure up to 8 years inclusive of 1 year grace period, and a debt: equity of 90: 10 will be disbursed to SME beneficiaries across Pakistan, covering; Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

4         EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In Pakistan, vegetables (excluding Potato) are grown on a total area of 253653 hectares during 2011-12 (GOP, 2011-12) with a production of 3110619 tones which is about 2.30 % of total crop area. Vegetables are comparatively rich source of vitamins and minerals, which are essential for the maintenance of good health and resistance against diseases. Vegetable yield per unit area is very low in Pakistan. One of the reasons of low yield is non-availability of quality seedlings of high yielding varieties/hybrids. Vegetable seedlings available in the market are of inferior quality.

After successful experimentation at Vegetable Programme, Horticulture Research Institute (HRI), National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), Islamabad, the technology of raising healthy seedling by using peat moss substrate and compost in multipot trays and getting early and late cucurbit crops by raising early & late seedlings had been found very beneficial.However, it needs scale up to reach maximum of beneficiaries of the community. The production of vegetable seedling can be successfully carried in peri-urban and vegetables growing areas of Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gigit Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

In Pakistan, cucurbit crops: vegetable marrow, bitter gourd, cucumber, muskmelon, long melon, water melon, bottle gourd and sponge gourd etc are being grown over a larger area. Mostly the farmers are growing cucurbits in the normal growing season (mid February to mid March) by sowing of seeds and when such vegetables are harvested, the markets are flooded with these vegetables and the growers sometimes not even getting back their cost of production. Whereas the prices of the early season cucurbits are always two to three times higher than their normal season. Early crop by 20-25 days can fetch better price than thenormal. Nursery of cucurbit crops can be raised in polythene bags under very simple and low cost protected structures like walk-in tunnels. Seedlings of the desired cucurbits are raised in the first week of January up to mid of January and 40-60 days old seedlings are transplanted in the open field from mid February to first week of March. This technology is very effective for producing early crops of cucurbits especially in central and Northern Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gigit Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

5         BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT AND PRODUCT

Following key parameters must be addressed as per pre-feasibility study:

5.1       Techniques:

The technology comprises of cost-effective techniques of raising of seedlings of economically useful vegetable crops that have been developed and standardized by Research Institutes. The techniques involve;

a)      Making/Using compost,

b)      Preparation of potting medium,

c)      Use of tunnel, use of shade nets,

d)      Raising seedlings in multipot trays and polythene bags

e)      Use of supplementary nutrition if required

f)       Hardening of seedlings etc.

g)      Packing

This technique ensures that a large number of seedlings can be raised in minimum space under optimized and controlled conditions. The seeds or cuttings are planted in plastic bags filled with a specially prepared potting medium. The bags have holes in the bottom. The potting medium has to be porous should also have all the plant nutrients. Ideally, compost, is used as media.

5.2       Location:

The business of healthy seedling can be initiated in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gigit Baltistan, whereas the technology of early and late seedlings of cucurbits can be successfully carried in central and Northern Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gigit Baltistan and Azad Jammu &  Kashmir.

 

5.3        Product:

 The crops targeted for the plant nursery include the following:

 

Table 1  Crops targeted for the plant nursery

Structures

Summer

(November- February)

Rainy season

(June –July)

Winter

(August – October)

 

Multipot trays

Tomato, chili, pepper, brinjal

Cauiflower,tomato, chili, pepper, brinjal

Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce

Polythene bags/glass

Cucurbits including gourds, pumpkin, vegetable marrow Luffa, melons etc.

Cucurbits including gourds, pumpkin, vegetable marrow Luffa, melons etc.

 Off season vegetable nursery including tomato, cucumber, pepper etc.

Beds

 

 

Onion

The exact choice may vary depending on the situation. Viability of nurseries depends on market condition

5.4        Target Market:

Following are some of the areas which could be identified as major existing market of vegetable nursery;

        I.            Kitchen gardeners

      II.            Farms in peri urban areas

    III.            Vegetable growers

 

5.5       Employment Generation:

The proposed project will provide direct employment to four individuals. Financial analysis shows the profitability of proposed business within first year of its operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6         CRITICAL FACTORS

The commercial viability of the proposed project depends on the following factors:

 

·         Any person who is planning to adopt this technology should have some practical knowledge about nursery

·         Use of high quality hybrid/recommended varieties seeds.

·         Having and maintaining fertility of compost.

·         Cost efficiency through better management.

·         Timely control of pests, diseases and exercise of preventive measures.

·         Maintenance & control of internal temperature & humidity in the tunnel.

·         Timely irrigation and fertilization.

·         Farm is required to maintain the record of production and management practices for successful marketing and traceability.

·         Farm should have strong market linkages for effective disposal of produce.

7          INSTALLED AND OPERATIONAL CAPACITY FOR VEGETABLE NURSERY RAISING

This pre-feasibility suggests a farm operation on 0.5 acres of land with following capacity

Table 2  Capacity of Farm operation on 0.5 acres of land

Seedlings

Quantity

Cucurbit

50,000

Tomato, chili (Summer)

50,000

Cauliflower etc. (Winter)

50,000

Onion in open areas

2,000,000

Off season seedlings

60,000

8          GEOGRAPHICAL POTENTIAL FOR INVESTMENT

This technique ensures that a large number of seedlings can be raised in minimum space under optimized and controlled conditions. Poly tunnels used for protection against frost and used for nursery raising of summer vegetables (November to February) and similar structure will be used for protection against heat during summer (June to August) for early cauliflower, cabbage etc.

 

8.1       Potential Target Markets

The market for seedlings and planting material produced includes kitchen gardeners, farmers of peri urban area and vegetable growers. The vegetable nursery project will be based on the demand for the selected crops to be produced by end users. In addition to local households the proposed vegetable nursery will include a marketing programme to promote sales of seedlings and planting materials to farmers in the project area. The marketing plan will include the development of a sales brochure and flyers describing the supply and price lists of planting material by the nursery. Other elements in the marketing programme will include limited print media advertising, sales calls, and public relations.

 

9         PRODUCTION PROCESS FLOW

Possible utilization of land is given in Table:

Table 3 Utilization of land

Seedling Plan

Jan.

Feb.

March

April

May

June

July

Aug.

Sep.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Summer

****

+++

++++=

++++

 

 

 

 

 

 

+++

+++

July

 

 

 

 

 

+++

+++

+++

 

 

 

 

Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+++

+++

+++

+++

Off season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+++

+++

+++

 

+++

10     Project Cost and Benefit Summary

A detailed financial model has been developed to analyze the commercial viability of vegetable nursery raising under the Prime Minister’s Small Business Loan Scheme. Various cost and revenue related assumptions, along with results of the analysis, are outlined in this section.

10.1  Project Economics

The following table shows internal rates of return and payback period.

           

Table 4 Project Economics

Description

Details

Net Present Value (NPV)

Rs. 3662745

Benefits Cost Ratio (BCR)

1.35

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

29%

Payback Period (years)

3.49

 

Factors that influence the profitability of nursery management, quality of inputs and environmental factors.

 

a.      Project Cost

Following requirements have been identified for operations of the proposed business.

           

Table 5 Total Project Cost

Capital Investment

Amount (rupees)

Capital Cost (one time investment)

    440,000

Pre-Operating Cost

 

Initial Working Capital

  15,28,500

Total

             1,968,500

 

 

b.      Space Requirement

Table 6 Space requirement and its cost

Space Requirement

Cost Rs./ Uni

No./Quantity

Area

(Sq. ft.)

Total Cost  (Rs.)

Store (120 sq ft)

100000

1

120

100,000

Tunnel structure

240000

1

570

240,000

Open area for nursery raising

—-

—-

0.5 acres

15,000

Capital Cost

 

 

 

355000

c.       Machinery and Equipments

 

Table 7 List of Machinery& Equipments and its cost

Machinery

 

No./Quantity

 

Unit Price (Rs.)

Total Cost  (Rs.)

Spray pump

1

10000

10000

Autoclave/Sterlization unit

1

5000

5000

Pipe (ft)

200

20

4000

Water tank  (300 gallon)

1

10000

10000

Tools for nursery

10

500

5000

Sieve etc.

1

1000

1000

Total Cost

 

 

35000

 

d.      Furniture and Fixture

 

Following table provides list of Furniture and Fixture required for nursery project.

 

Table 8 List of Furniture & Fixture and its cost

 

Description

Quantity (Nos)

Unit Price

 

Furniture and Fixture

 

Lump sump

50000

50,000

Total

 

 

 

50,000

 

e.      Operational and Maintenance cost

Following table provides list of Consumable Requirement for Inland Fish Farm.

 

Table 9 Operational & Maintenance cost

Description

Nos.

Unit Price

Total

Farm Yard manure (Trolley)

5

2000

10000

Agric. Waste (Trolley)

5

500

2500

Approximately Seed for all vegetables

1

200000

200000

Pesticides/Fertilizers

2

14000

28000

Multipot trays

2000

100

200000

Poly glass/tubes

70000

2

140000

Plastic sheet

50000

1

50000

Shading net

60000

1

60000

Utilities (Electricity etc.)

12

8000

96000

Land Rent

   

50000

Other

   

20000

Total

 

 

856,500

 

 

f.        Human Resource Requirement

The table below provides details of human resource required to manage basic fish farm. The staff salaries are estimated according to the market trends. However, these requirements and pay scales may vary area to area.

Table 10 Human Resource Requirement its cost

Description

No. of Employees

Salary/person/ month

Total salary per year

Field Manager

1

20000

240000

Field man(Permanent)

4

10800

432000

Total

 

 

672000

 

g.      Project Financing

Following table provides details of the equity required and variables related to bank loan;

 

Table 11 Project financing

Description

Details

Total Equity (10%)

Rs. 196,850

Bank loan (90%)

Rs.1,771,650

Mark up to borrower (per annum)

8%

Tenure of Loan (Years)

8%

Grace Period (years)

1

 

 

 

h.      Revenue Generation

Table 12 Revenue of the Project

Product

Unit

Sales Price (Rs./Unit)

First Time Revenue (Rs)

Cucurbit

50,000

10

500000

Tomato, chili (Summer)

50,000

5

250000

Cauliflower etc. (Winter)

50,000

5

250000

Onion in open areas

2,000,000

0.2

400000

Off season seedlings

60,000

10

600000

Total Sales Revenue

 

 

2,000,000

 

Table 13 Key Assumption

 

Particulars

Assumption

Sales Price Growth Rate

8% per year

Increase in cost of raw material

5% per year

Increase in utilities

5% per year

Increase in land rent

10% per year

Debt/Equity Ratio

90:10

Loan Period

8 years

Grace Period

1 year

Loan Installments

Monthly

Financial charges (interest rate)

8%

Cucumber production problems for research in Pakistan

(Mujahid Ali1, Dr. C.M. Ayyub1, Naheed Akhtar2)

(1Horticulture, UAF; 2Horticulture, DG Khan)

We have all kind of progressive growers in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) production in both open fields and tunnels. But our per acre yield is too low. Despite the fact that we have a large area for its production. We are unable to export, sometime even its price goes beyond the reach of common people. Moreover, we have year-round production due to tunnel farming system. Regardless of various resources in our country, we have the following major problems in the production of cucumber in Pakistan.

  1. Seed

A seed has prime importance in cucumber production. Without quality seed, a farmer can’t get a good yield. It is our dilemma that we could not introduce new varieties so there is just one dominant indigenous variety that is called “Desi-cucumber”. This variety is somehow resistant to heat stress and other stress, but its yield is low. In the tunnel, we are dependent on foreign hybrid seeds. So, we pay per seed price that is costly. Every season farmer purchases new seed. We should focus on its breeding to evolve high yielding varieties.

  1. Diseases

There are various diseases which affect our cucumber production like powdery mildew, downy mildew, bacterial wilt, anthracnose, angular leaf spot and some viral diseases like cucumber mosaic virus are destroying our crop. In tunnels, the fungal disease like downy or powdery mildew are dominant because of high humidity. So, in tunnels, frequent aeration is important simply by removing part of polythene during the daytime. So, our farmer pays huge on fungicides etc. Resistant varieties can solve this problem.

  1. Insect pest

Although we can control weeds by mulching, but insects are another problem. In a tunnel system, we can control to some extent. But in the open field, it is not possible. Some important insect pests are aphid, jasid, whitefly, beetles and thrips. These are most prominent in open fields. So, our farmer pays huge on insecticide/pesticides. Sometimes damage by it is so severe that the farmer gets nothing.

  1. Abiotic factors

The United States and Europe have a great focus on chilling injury, but we face mostly problem of heat stress in Pakistan in open fields.  Other than heat stress there are certain main problems e.g. salt stress, waterlogging and drought. These are management issues we can manage. But in open fields, we cannot manage heat stress which destroys its quality and quantity. We have to focus these problems in research regarding cucumber production.

Tomato Pests & Disease in Pakistan

A number of tomato troubles (insect, disease, environmental) can wreak havoc on your favorite plants. We identify them here and list earth-friendly solutions for controlling them.

Home-grown tomatoes are a source of pride, a thing of beauty, and beyond-description delicious. Whether heirlooms of the sort our grandmothers knew or a tried and true northern variety that gives us success despite June and September frosts, a perfect tomato is an achievement. If that perfect tomato is organic, kept pest and disease free without the use of harmful chemicals, it’s priceless.

To produce that perfect tomato, be alert. Keep an eye on your plant’s health, look for larvae and other insects, watch for signs of disease. And if you find them, come here for advice on what to do. Remember: part of a quick reaction is having the most efficient tools, products, and methods ready for when trouble shows its head. Be prepared.

The first task when facing an unhappy tomato plant is to diagnose the problem. Websites with pictures can be enormously helpful here. One of the best is Texas A&M’s Tomato Disorders page, which presents photographs under five headings, green fruit, ripe fruit, stems, leaves, and roots. What you can’t do on that site, though, is type in a suspected problem and call up an associated picture. One of the best sites comes out of Maine titled Common Tomato Diseases and Disorders.

Garden Pests

If you see an insect on or near your beloved tomato plants, don’t rush for the nearest insecticide. Many insects are beneficial to the garden or at least neutral. That insect may be feeding on the very pests you’re having trouble with. Even if you’re looking at an enemy, one insect does not make an infestation. It’s best to identify the intruder and the level of damage it’s causing before implementing steps in managing insect pests in vegetable gardens (hat tip to Cornell University).

Aphids

These are those dense clusters of tiny insects you may see on the stems or new growth of your tomato plants. While small numbers are not a problem — don’t be afraid to crush them with your thumb — large infestations can gradually injure or even kill plants. Pinch off foliage where aphids are densely concentrated, and throw these discarded bits into the garbage, not on the ground. If the problem then seems manageable, release beneficial insects such as ladybugs or lacewings. If it doesn’t, go for the insecticidal soap that uses natural fats and plant oils (Organic Material Review Institute listed) or natural sprays, many of which are listed for organic production.

Cutworms

These are the tiny grub-like caterpillars that feed on young plant stems at night, frequently felling seedlings by eating right through them at ground level. Prevent damage by placing collars around seedlings. You can make these of paper, cardboard, aluminum foil, or an aluminum pie plate about ten inches long and four high, bent to form a circle or cylinder and stapled. Sink the collars about an inch into soil around individual seedlings, letting three inches show above the ground to deter high-climbers.

Flea Beetles

A potentially devastating visitor, the flea beetle (so-named because it resembles and jumps like a flea) attacks from both sides: adults eat foliage, leaving numerous small holes, while larvae feed on roots. They’re not picky, these beetles; they’ll go for corn, cabbage, lettuce, and all members of the Solanaceae family: peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes. Unless levels are very high, damage can be minimized and controlled by using preventative measures.

Clear away or plow under weeds and debris, in which adults over-winter.
Place yellow sticky-traps to monitor levels and capture adults.
Use row covers. Young plants are more vulnerable to damage, so cover them to keep beetles off.
Dusting plants with diatomaceous earth (a chalky stone composed of marine fossils, ground to powder) helps control adults feeding on foliage.
To attack the insect more directly, introduce beneficial nematodes into your soil to feed on the larvae and pupae.
In cases of high infestation and serious damage, botanical insecticides such as pyrethrin can be used.

Hornworms

These destructive caterpillars are so big — three inches long or more — that it would seem to be easy to control them just by picking them off. And so it is, sometimes. The problem is that their pale green color provides excellent camouflage, and the nymph and larval stages are far smaller and less obvious. If there are only a few, picking them off works well. (One site suggests spraying the plant with water, causing the caterpillars to, and I quote, “thrash around,” giving themselves away.) If there are more than a few, other measures may be called for. One of these is Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, an organic treatment that can control numerous other problems as well.

Nematodes

This is one of the most dreaded tomato problems. Actually, almost 20,000 different species of nematode have been identified, and billions of these usually microscopic worms occupy each acre of fertile earth, so it is fortunate that only a few cause gardening problems. Some, insect pathogenic nematodes, can actually help control other gardening pests such as fungus gnats or flea beetles. But when a gardening friend says in a voice of doom, “I’ve got nematodes,” he generally means one thing: root-knot nematodes. This particular species invades various crops, causing bumps or galls that interfere with the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and to perform photosynthesis. They’re most common in warmer areas with short winters. Unfortunately, controlling nematodes is not easy.

Rotation: Since they take several seasons to get established, rotating garden crops denies this pest the chance to get entrenched. It’s crucial, though, that you follow tomatoes with crops that are not vulnerable to the same problem! Members of the same family are of course taboo; this includes peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. However, less likely crops are also vulnerable; these include okra and cotton, in the south, and peas, squash, beets, and numerous others anywhere. If you suspect nematodes — if you ever pull a plant that has odd-looking lumpy growths on its roots — have your county extension agent take a look at it, and get advice about crop rotation in your area.
Soil sterilization: Completely sterilizing the soil is one option on small plots, but it’s toxic and sometimes expensive. It also means that you’ve killed off all the beneficial organisms in the soil as well as the troublesome ones, so it’s particularly important to follow such treatment with a big infusion of clean compost. It would also be best to add earthworms, and an assortment of micro-organisms as well, since doing so will restore the soil to full health and make it less vulnerable to further incursions by nematodes.
Nematodes: While eliminating nematodes is extremely difficult, it is possible to limit their damage by using resistant varieties, marked N. Doing so doesn’t kill the pests, but it does keep them and their effects under control.

White flies

These tiny flying insects feed on plant juices, leaving behind a sticky residue or ‘honeydew,’ which can become a host for sooty mold. Rustle the leaves of infested plants, and clouds of these insects will rise. If you have a serious problem, you may be tempted to reach for a conventional insecticide, but don’t bother, as whiteflies have developed resistance to many.

The best bet is a horticultural oil, which effectively smothers all stages of this insect.
To deal with lower levels, place yellow sticky traps to monitor and suppress infestations.
Hosing down plants can be surprisingly effective, especially if you use a bug-blaster, a hose attachment designed to produce an intense multi-directional spray that easily reaches the undersides of leaves.
Another tactic is to release natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, or whitefly parasites.
If the situation is out of control, insecticidal soaps and botanical insecticides can bring populations down to manageable levels, at which point natural predators can maintain them.

Plant Diseases

Tomatoes can be stricken by an astonishing array of diseases. If you want to see the full list, go to the How to Manage Tomato Pests page at UC Davis, which discusses some 30 diseases that can afflict tomatoes. Tomatoes can get early or late blight, either white or grey mold (or both). Then they can have problems with diseases with quirky names like curly top and corky root rot. It’s amazing that tomatoes are ever healthy. But they are, and it’s largely because the problems never get thoroughly established. After all, it’s a lot less work to nip problems in the proverbial bud.

Avoiding Problems

If you’re at all susceptible to anxiety attacks, it will probably be of some comfort to know that disease is generally far less of an issue for back-yard gardeners than for commercial producers.

Here’s how you can protect your tomatoes:

  • Give your plants good soil & fertilizer and regular watering; healthy plants are much more likely to resist diseases and other problems.
  • Keep gardening plots free of weeds and debris where insects can breed and diseases can incubate.
  • Rotate crops so that soil-borne pathogens never have more than a season to get established.
  • Clean your gardening tools and equipment, especially at the end of the season, to ensure that they don’t carry over or spread a disease.
  • Remove unhealthy foliage; pull unhealthy plants to cut down on the spread of problems.
  • Don’t compost diseased foliage or plants unless you know it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t use tobacco near tomato plants, to avoid communicating tobacco mosaic virus.
  • Avoid watering the foliage of your plants, especially in humid climates, as many diseases are encouraged by damp conditions.

The last on that list may be one of the most important. Many plant diseases — verticillium and fusarium wilt, early and late blight, and various leaf spots — are all caused by fungi that prefer damp, cool conditions. Experts generally advise gardeners to water in the morning in part to avoid conditions that encourage fungal growth or molds. Using drip watering systems or soaker hoses keeps leaves dry, again reducing attractive sites for the fungus to get established. Though some of these fungi are airborne, many reside in the soil or in garden debris or weeds related to the tomato. It is important, therefore, to keep weeds and brush piles clear of garden plots. It also helps to keep tomato foliage off the ground and to avoid splashing water up from the ground onto foliage while watering. Mulches help achieve both these objectives.

Damping Off

Caused by any of several viruses, damping off disease is a tomato problem that affects young, seemingly healthy seedlings that suddenly develop a dark lesion at the soil line, then quickly wilt and die. Cool, damp soil, overwatering, and overcrowding all increase probability of infection. Use clean potting soil and germination trays and tools to reduce incidence, avoid crowded seed beds, and monitor watering carefully during the first two weeks after sprouting.

Fusarium Wilt

Caused by a soil-borne fungus that targets Solanaceous plants (tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant), fusarium wilt often causes no symptoms until plants are mature and green fruit begins to reach its full size. At that point foliage, sometimes on only one side of the plant, turns yellow, and a sliced stem will show brownish, discolored tissue. Control includes crop rotation, so that the wilt organisms, deprived of a host, will die down in affected soils where it winters. Since cool, damp conditions favor infection, avoid spraying leaves, especially in cool weather. Use resistant varieties.

Mosaic Virus

There are actually several closely related viruses (the tobamoviruses) that cause the wilted, mottled, and underdeveloped fern-like leaves characteristic of the tobacco mosaic virus. All are spread by what are termed mechanical means: something or something that’s been in contact with the virus touches an uninfected plant, and voila — you’ve got an infected plant. Sanitation is therefore of the utmost importance, starting with never smoking near tomato plants, as tobacco can carry the virus. Infected plants should be destroyed. Back-yard plants purchased from a reliable nursery or grown from certified disease-free seed and handled in a tobacco-free environment by only one or two people, are unlikely to develop this disease.

Verticillium Wilt

Like fusarium, verticillium is caused by a fungus that, once established in soil, is virtually impossible to remove. Symptoms are almost identical to those caused by fusarium wilt, but are less lethal. The edges of large, older leaves turn yellow, then brown and crumbly, and stems show vascular damage. Unlike fusarium, verticillium wilt affects a wide variety of crops, but lowers yield without killing plants. Again, avoid spreading infected soil and watering foliage, and again, use resistant varieties.

Environmental Conditions

Blossom End Rot
If your ripening fruits develop a dark spot at the lower end, a spot that gradually widens and deepens, you’re looking at blossom-end rot. It’s an environmental problem most often caused by uneven watering or by calcium deficiency. (These can be related; uneven watering can interfere with the uptake of calcium.) The simplest treatment is therefore pre-treatment: make sure soil is rich in all necessary nutrients, including liquid calcium, and water regularly. Mulches also help maintain even moisture levels.

Catfacing
Catfaced tomato plants are deformed to a greater or lesser extent, having deep grooves or indentations running from the blossom end all the way around to the stem. The condition results from cool weather or insect damage while the plant is in blossom. Tomato varieties with large fruit are most susceptible and tomatoes are often rendered inedible — although considered safe to it. To avoid the problem select resistant varieties whenever possible.

Cracking
Several things can cause cracking in tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, especially small ones, frequently split at the stem end, sometimes all the way to the blossom end, and it does not indicate any sort of disease or problem. The skin of a tomato becomes less resilient as it matures, so the fruit often outgrows the skin. Pick cherry tomatoes just before full ripeness to avoid this.

Circular splitting at the stem end, (concentric cracking) or cracks running towards the stem (radial cracking) usually result from a sudden increase in moisture after a dry spell. Once again, the tomato fruit expands beyond the skin’s ability to adapt. Keep soil evenly moist to avoid this phenomenon.

Sun Scald
The tomato’s skin will look bruised or leathery, the skin sunken and puckered. It is essentially what it sounds like, a sun-burn, tomato style, and it occurs when fruit is too exposed during hot weather. This problem primarily affects staked and trellised tomatoes, which are more aggressively pruned than are caged or free tomatoes. To prevent this problem, be sure to leave adequate foliage on plants when pruning. Reusable shade cloth can also be used to protect tender vegetable plants. Once sun scald has occurred, you cannot do anything for affected fruit, but you can provide shade for the unaffected ones.

Tomato Pests & Disease in Pakistan

A number of tomato troubles (insect, disease, environmental) can wreak havoc on your favorite plants. We identify them here and list earth-friendly solutions for controlling them.

Home-grown tomatoes are a source of pride, a thing of beauty, and beyond-description delicious. Whether heirlooms of the sort our grandmothers knew or a tried and true northern variety that gives us success despite June and September frosts, a perfect tomato is an achievement. If that perfect tomato is organic, kept pest and disease free without the use of harmful chemicals, it’s priceless.

To produce that perfect tomato, be alert. Keep an eye on your plant’s health, look for larvae and other insects, watch for signs of disease. And if you find them, come here for advice on what to do. Remember: part of a quick reaction is having the most efficient tools, products, and methods ready for when trouble shows its head. Be prepared.

The first task when facing an unhappy tomato plant is to diagnose the problem. Websites with pictures can be enormously helpful here. One of the best is Texas A&M’s Tomato Disorders page, which presents photographs under five headings, green fruit, ripe fruit, stems, leaves, and roots. What you can’t do on that site, though, is type in a suspected problem and call up an associated picture. One of the best sites comes out of Maine titled Common Tomato Diseases and Disorders.

Garden Pests

If you see an insect on or near your beloved tomato plants, don’t rush for the nearest insecticide. Many insects are beneficial to the garden or at least neutral. That insect may be feeding on the very pests you’re having trouble with. Even if you’re looking at an enemy, one insect does not make an infestation. It’s best to identify the intruder and the level of damage it’s causing before implementing steps in managing insect pests in vegetable gardens (hat tip to Cornell University).

Aphids

These are those dense clusters of tiny insects you may see on the stems or new growth of your tomato plants. While small numbers are not a problem — don’t be afraid to crush them with your thumb — large infestations can gradually injure or even kill plants. Pinch off foliage where aphids are densely concentrated, and throw these discarded bits into the garbage, not on the ground. If the problem then seems manageable, release beneficial insects such as ladybugs or lacewings. If it doesn’t, go for the insecticidal soap that uses natural fats and plant oils (Organic Material Review Institute listed) or natural sprays, many of which are listed for organic production.

Cutworms

These are the tiny grub-like caterpillars that feed on young plant stems at night, frequently felling seedlings by eating right through them at ground level. Prevent damage by placing collars around seedlings. You can make these of paper, cardboard, aluminum foil, or an aluminum pie plate about ten inches long and four high, bent to form a circle or cylinder and stapled. Sink the collars about an inch into soil around individual seedlings, letting three inches show above the ground to deter high-climbers.

Flea Beetles

A potentially devastating visitor, the flea beetle (so-named because it resembles and jumps like a flea) attacks from both sides: adults eat foliage, leaving numerous small holes, while larvae feed on roots. They’re not picky, these beetles; they’ll go for corn, cabbage, lettuce, and all members of the Solanaceae family: peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes. Unless levels are very high, damage can be minimized and controlled by using preventative measures.

Clear away or plow under weeds and debris, in which adults over-winter.
Place yellow sticky-traps to monitor levels and capture adults.
Use row covers. Young plants are more vulnerable to damage, so cover them to keep beetles off.
Dusting plants with diatomaceous earth (a chalky stone composed of marine fossils, ground to powder) helps control adults feeding on foliage.
To attack the insect more directly, introduce beneficial nematodes into your soil to feed on the larvae and pupae.
In cases of high infestation and serious damage, botanical insecticides such as pyrethrin can be used.

Hornworms

These destructive caterpillars are so big — three inches long or more — that it would seem to be easy to control them just by picking them off. And so it is, sometimes. The problem is that their pale green color provides excellent camouflage, and the nymph and larval stages are far smaller and less obvious. If there are only a few, picking them off works well. (One site suggests spraying the plant with water, causing the caterpillars to, and I quote, “thrash around,” giving themselves away.) If there are more than a few, other measures may be called for. One of these is Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, an organic treatment that can control numerous other problems as well.

Nematodes

This is one of the most dreaded tomato problems. Actually, almost 20,000 different species of nematode have been identified, and billions of these usually microscopic worms occupy each acre of fertile earth, so it is fortunate that only a few cause gardening problems. Some, insect pathogenic nematodes, can actually help control other gardening pests such as fungus gnats or flea beetles. But when a gardening friend says in a voice of doom, “I’ve got nematodes,” he generally means one thing: root-knot nematodes. This particular species invades various crops, causing bumps or galls that interfere with the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and to perform photosynthesis. They’re most common in warmer areas with short winters. Unfortunately, controlling nematodes is not easy.

Rotation: Since they take several seasons to get established, rotating garden crops denies this pest the chance to get entrenched. It’s crucial, though, that you follow tomatoes with crops that are not vulnerable to the same problem! Members of the same family are of course taboo; this includes peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. However, less likely crops are also vulnerable; these include okra and cotton, in the south, and peas, squash, beets, and numerous others anywhere. If you suspect nematodes — if you ever pull a plant that has odd-looking lumpy growths on its roots — have your county extension agent take a look at it, and get advice about crop rotation in your area.
Soil sterilization: Completely sterilizing the soil is one option on small plots, but it’s toxic and sometimes expensive. It also means that you’ve killed off all the beneficial organisms in the soil as well as the troublesome ones, so it’s particularly important to follow such treatment with a big infusion of clean compost. It would also be best to add earthworms, and an assortment of micro-organisms as well, since doing so will restore the soil to full health and make it less vulnerable to further incursions by nematodes.
Nematodes: While eliminating nematodes is extremely difficult, it is possible to limit their damage by using resistant varieties, marked N. Doing so doesn’t kill the pests, but it does keep them and their effects under control.

White flies

These tiny flying insects feed on plant juices, leaving behind a sticky residue or ‘honeydew,’ which can become a host for sooty mold. Rustle the leaves of infested plants, and clouds of these insects will rise. If you have a serious problem, you may be tempted to reach for a conventional insecticide, but don’t bother, as whiteflies have developed resistance to many.

The best bet is a horticultural oil, which effectively smothers all stages of this insect.
To deal with lower levels, place yellow sticky traps to monitor and suppress infestations.
Hosing down plants can be surprisingly effective, especially if you use a bug-blaster, a hose attachment designed to produce an intense multi-directional spray that easily reaches the undersides of leaves.
Another tactic is to release natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, or whitefly parasites.
If the situation is out of control, insecticidal soaps and botanical insecticides can bring populations down to manageable levels, at which point natural predators can maintain them.

Plant Diseases

Tomatoes can be stricken by an astonishing array of diseases. If you want to see the full list, go to the How to Manage Tomato Pests page at UC Davis, which discusses some 30 diseases that can afflict tomatoes. Tomatoes can get early or late blight, either white or grey mold (or both). Then they can have problems with diseases with quirky names like curly top and corky root rot. It’s amazing that tomatoes are ever healthy. But they are, and it’s largely because the problems never get thoroughly established. After all, it’s a lot less work to nip problems in the proverbial bud.

Avoiding Problems

If you’re at all susceptible to anxiety attacks, it will probably be of some comfort to know that disease is generally far less of an issue for back-yard gardeners than for commercial producers.

Here’s how you can protect your tomatoes:

  • Give your plants good soil & fertilizer and regular watering; healthy plants are much more likely to resist diseases and other problems.
  • Keep gardening plots free of weeds and debris where insects can breed and diseases can incubate.
  • Rotate crops so that soil-borne pathogens never have more than a season to get established.
  • Clean your gardening tools and equipment, especially at the end of the season, to ensure that they don’t carry over or spread a disease.
  • Remove unhealthy foliage; pull unhealthy plants to cut down on the spread of problems.
  • Don’t compost diseased foliage or plants unless you know it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t use tobacco near tomato plants, to avoid communicating tobacco mosaic virus.
  • Avoid watering the foliage of your plants, especially in humid climates, as many diseases are encouraged by damp conditions.

The last on that list may be one of the most important. Many plant diseases — verticillium and fusarium wilt, early and late blight, and various leaf spots — are all caused by fungi that prefer damp, cool conditions. Experts generally advise gardeners to water in the morning in part to avoid conditions that encourage fungal growth or molds. Using drip watering systems or soaker hoses keeps leaves dry, again reducing attractive sites for the fungus to get established. Though some of these fungi are airborne, many reside in the soil or in garden debris or weeds related to the tomato. It is important, therefore, to keep weeds and brush piles clear of garden plots. It also helps to keep tomato foliage off the ground and to avoid splashing water up from the ground onto foliage while watering. Mulches help achieve both these objectives.

Damping Off

Caused by any of several viruses, damping off disease is a tomato problem that affects young, seemingly healthy seedlings that suddenly develop a dark lesion at the soil line, then quickly wilt and die. Cool, damp soil, overwatering, and overcrowding all increase probability of infection. Use clean potting soil and germination trays and tools to reduce incidence, avoid crowded seed beds, and monitor watering carefully during the first two weeks after sprouting.

Fusarium Wilt

Caused by a soil-borne fungus that targets Solanaceous plants (tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant), fusarium wilt often causes no symptoms until plants are mature and green fruit begins to reach its full size. At that point foliage, sometimes on only one side of the plant, turns yellow, and a sliced stem will show brownish, discolored tissue. Control includes crop rotation, so that the wilt organisms, deprived of a host, will die down in affected soils where it winters. Since cool, damp conditions favor infection, avoid spraying leaves, especially in cool weather. Use resistant varieties.

Mosaic Virus

There are actually several closely related viruses (the tobamoviruses) that cause the wilted, mottled, and underdeveloped fern-like leaves characteristic of the tobacco mosaic virus. All are spread by what are termed mechanical means: something or something that’s been in contact with the virus touches an uninfected plant, and voila — you’ve got an infected plant. Sanitation is therefore of the utmost importance, starting with never smoking near tomato plants, as tobacco can carry the virus. Infected plants should be destroyed. Back-yard plants purchased from a reliable nursery or grown from certified disease-free seed and handled in a tobacco-free environment by only one or two people, are unlikely to develop this disease.

Verticillium Wilt

Like fusarium, verticillium is caused by a fungus that, once established in soil, is virtually impossible to remove. Symptoms are almost identical to those caused by fusarium wilt, but are less lethal. The edges of large, older leaves turn yellow, then brown and crumbly, and stems show vascular damage. Unlike fusarium, verticillium wilt affects a wide variety of crops, but lowers yield without killing plants. Again, avoid spreading infected soil and watering foliage, and again, use resistant varieties.

Environmental Conditions

Blossom End Rot
If your ripening fruits develop a dark spot at the lower end, a spot that gradually widens and deepens, you’re looking at blossom-end rot. It’s an environmental problem most often caused by uneven watering or by calcium deficiency. (These can be related; uneven watering can interfere with the uptake of calcium.) The simplest treatment is therefore pre-treatment: make sure soil is rich in all necessary nutrients, including liquid calcium, and water regularly. Mulches also help maintain even moisture levels.

Catfacing
Catfaced tomato plants are deformed to a greater or lesser extent, having deep grooves or indentations running from the blossom end all the way around to the stem. The condition results from cool weather or insect damage while the plant is in blossom. Tomato varieties with large fruit are most susceptible and tomatoes are often rendered inedible — although considered safe to it. To avoid the problem select resistant varieties whenever possible.

Cracking
Several things can cause cracking in tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, especially small ones, frequently split at the stem end, sometimes all the way to the blossom end, and it does not indicate any sort of disease or problem. The skin of a tomato becomes less resilient as it matures, so the fruit often outgrows the skin. Pick cherry tomatoes just before full ripeness to avoid this.

Circular splitting at the stem end, (concentric cracking) or cracks running towards the stem (radial cracking) usually result from a sudden increase in moisture after a dry spell. Once again, the tomato fruit expands beyond the skin’s ability to adapt. Keep soil evenly moist to avoid this phenomenon.

Sun Scald
The tomato’s skin will look bruised or leathery, the skin sunken and puckered. It is essentially what it sounds like, a sun-burn, tomato style, and it occurs when fruit is too exposed during hot weather. This problem primarily affects staked and trellised tomatoes, which are more aggressively pruned than are caged or free tomatoes. To prevent this problem, be sure to leave adequate foliage on plants when pruning. Reusable shade cloth can also be used to protect tender vegetable plants. Once sun scald has occurred, you cannot do anything for affected fruit, but you can provide shade for the unaffected ones.