Solomon Khumbula, Makhado, Limpopo
We grow tomatoes and supply Firefly, one of the largest retailers in our town. Firefly packages our produce and sells it in its shops. We have just finished planting our HTX 14 tomato variety.
The seedlings come from WD Seedlings in Tzaneen. We use this variety because of its ability to tolerate the extreme heat in Makhado. It’s also a disease-resistant variety that needs very little pesticide spraying to grow well.
We get the seedlings when they are six weeks old and plant them immediately. We plant an area of 5ha to tomatoes, at a plant population of 20 000 plants per hectare. We ran the soil tests before we started the land preparation and they showed that parts of our farm needed liming, as some of the soil was too acidic.
We applied lime during soil preparation, after we had ploughed and disced and before we ridged. Because we try to keep our soil healthy and grow our crops sustainably, we only use organic matter such as chicken manure to fertilise our tomatoes.
We buy the chicken manure from local smallholder farmers and use about a handful per plant at planting. After that we follow our spraying and irrigation programme for about three months when we harvest. We run a weekly spraying programme for pests until harvesting – this helps us to produce quality tomatoes.
We use Warlock 19.2 EC for caterpillars, cutworm and aphids from the seedling phase, and Allice 20 SP from Week 1 to Week 4. From Week 5 until harvesting we spray with methyl parathion, an organophosphate insecticide.