Growing Tomato
crop nutrition advice

Everything you need to know about tomato fertilisation, best practice, suitable products, field trials and more.

Advice for growing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

  • States of Bihar, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal form the bulk of India's tomato production.

  • Tomatoes can be cultivated in various soil types ranging from clay to red soil, black soil and especially in sandy loams with good drainage.

  • Tomatoes perform better in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

  • In pH values above 7.5, deficiencies of B, Cu, Fe, Mn, P and Zn are likely to appear. In soil pH below 5.5, tomatoes are prone to P, Mo, and Ca deficiencies.

  • Tomatoes perform best at temperatures between 18ºC and 27ºC. And can tolerate temperatures up to 34ºC.

  • The water requirement of field-grown tomatoes is 4,000-6,000 m³/ha, while protected crops consume up to 10,000 m³/ha. Water requirements are high during transplanting and fruit set. It peaks during early fruit development and is much lower during ripening. Minor water stress during the ripening stage improves fruit firmness, sugar content, taste, and shelf-life but may result in reduced fruit size.

Nutrient requirements

Estimated nutrient uptake (kg/t):


Source: IPNI

Dynamics of nutrient uptake by tomato over a crop season

Role of nutrients

Key parameterNP2O5K2OMgOSO3CaO
Vegetative growth++++++
Fruit setting- (*)
Fruit number+
Fruit firmness+
Fruit colour+++
+ = improving; - = decreasing; +/- = different results, depending on the rate of nutrient applied

(*) Excess N fertilisation can delay the reproductive stage.

Nutrient deficiencies

NitrogenN deficiency results in general chlorosis of the older leaves on a plant, slower growth and smaller plants. There will be fewer flowers leading to reduced yield.
PhosphorousPlants experiencing phosphorus deficiency develop very slowly and will be stunted even at maturity. They may be a brighter colour than normal, with a grey-green lower leaf surface. Leaflets roll upwards under severe P deficiency. Phosphorous deficiency most commonly occurs on calcareous and heavy soils, where P can be fixed.
PotassiumDeficiency symptoms appear on young, full-sized leaves, which display margin and tip burn necrosis of the leaves.
At advanced stages, necrosis shows in the interveinal spaces between the main veins, along with interveinal chlorosis. Potassium deficiency is more common when grown on light or leached soils.
CalciumCalcium deficiencies in tomato include necrosis of the leaf base, and blossom-end rot (collapsing of the distal part of the fruit). Deficiencies are severe in soils with pH below 5, or under salinity or heat stress.
MagnesiumMagnesium deficiency symptoms appear on older leaves first, which develop general chlorosis while veins remain green.
In severe cases, the leaves will exhibit a scorched appearance due to interveinal necrosis. It may occur on sandy soils, and when high rates of potassium are applied.
SulphurSymptoms are similar to N deficiency, but the chlorosis is uniform and general throughout the entire plant, including younger leaves. Typically a reddish colour develops on leaves’ petioles and veins.
BoronSymptoms generally start on young leaves which will be a lighter colour. Severe boron deficiency shows on older leaves as interveinal chlorosis, which develops to a deep yellow-orange hue.
Other symptoms include brittle leaves that may exhibit rolled-up edges and tomato fruit with a corky stem-end.
ChlorineChlorine deficiency produces abnormally shaped leaves, with distinct interveinal chlorosis. The chlorosis occurs on smooth flat depressions in the interveinal area of the leaf blade. In more advanced cases, a characteristic bronzing appears on the upper side of mature leaves. Chlorine deficiency can be found in highly leached inland areas.
CopperCurled leaves with petioles bent downward are typical copper deficiency symptoms. Deficiency may be expressed as light overall chlorosis along with permanent loss of turgor in the young leaves. Recently matured leaves show netted, green veining with areas bleached to a whitish grey.
IronIron deficiency starts as interveinal chlorosis of the youngest leaves, which progresses to overall chlorosis, ending as a totally bleached leaf. Chlorosis at the base of the leaves with some green netting will recover with the application of iron up until the time the leaves become almost completely white.
ManganeseAt the earlier stages of manganese deficiency, light chlorosis appears on the young leaves. With more severe cases, mature leaves show netted veins, before developing brown-grey necrosis along the veins. Manganese deficiency occurs on high-pH and calcareous soils, or excessively limed soils.
MolybdenumAn early symptom of molybdenum deficiency is overall chlorosis, very similar to nitrogen deficiency, but without the reddish colouration on the undersides of the leaves. Upward cupping of the leaves and mottled spots develop into large interveinal chlorotic areas under severe deficiency.
ZincZinc deficiency causes stunting of plants and upward rolling of young leaves. Grey-brown to bronze areas may also develop on the leaves. Zinc deficiency occurs on alkaline soils or when a high dose of P is applied.


Commercial tomato production
Ripe tomatoes ready for harvest

Tomato Trials

Tomato with Polysulphate
Beit-Ezra, Israel , 2017


Marketable Yield Increase
Better Flowering in Tomato
Village: Madapuri Doddi, Taluka: Mandaya, Karnataka, 2023


Number of Flowers
Better Shelf Life for Tomatoes
Village: Mungsare, Taluka/District: Nashik, Maharashtra, 2022


Shelf Life


Here are some frequently asked questions we received from farmers regarding tomato fertilisation.

  • This will depend on the current nutrient content of your soil. Before you start fertilising tomatoes, it is best to test your soil. If your soil is correctly balanced or high in N, you should use a fertiliser that is slightly lower in N and higher in P, if you are slightly lacking in N, then use a balanced fertiliser.

  • The best way to avoid blossom-end rot in tomatoes is to maintain steady levels of moisture for your plants and to use a balanced fertiliser. It also helps to avoid working too close to the roots of the tomato plant. Check your soil pH before planting, it should be between 5.5 and 6.5. Calcium can be supplied, either to the soil or using a foliar fertiliser application.

  • The nutritional requirements of tomato plants change with the season and growth stage. To obtain an optimal crop, the composition of the fertiliser, and the application rate, must be adjusted according to the growth stage.

Related Crops

Explore other crops