Farmers start harvesting tomatoes in southeast Arkansas

WARREN, Ark. — Tomato season is here. About 1,200 acres of tomatoes were grown in Arkansas this year, with most of the acreage in the southeast corner of the state.

“Farmers started harvesting their crops in June and will continue through the middle of July,” says John Gavin, Bradley County, Ark., staff chair for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Tomatoes thrive in dry warm weather if irrigation is possible. “Tomatoes do well when temperatures are between 60 and 90 degrees,” said Gavin.

Farmers have to contend with several pest and disease problems. “Pests, such as fruit worms, stink bugs and aphids, can destroy plants,” Gavin said. “Growers also watch out for early blight, bacteria canker, bacteria spot and bacteria speck.”

Growers are also cautious of blossom end rot caused by a low pH, and water management problems that occur when the fruit is too wet or too dry.

In years past, growers have had to deal with crop loss due to tomato spotted wilt virus and fusarium wilt. A new variety has been developed, though, to help curb crop loss. “Amelia has shown high yield in a variety of trials,” said Gavin. “It’s a great variety that’s resistant to both diseases.”

Gavin said that while there are varieties that are resistant to either disease, it’s certainly an advantage to have one variety resistant to both.

Elizabeth Fortune is an Arkansas Extension communications specialist.

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