Growing Tomato crop nutrition advice

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

Advice for growing Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)

  • 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 of approximately 64 to 81 oF. Temperatures exceeding 93ºF are detrimental to pollination and fruit set, especially under insufficient water supply.

  • Field-grown tomatoes water requirement are approximately 16 to 24 acre-inches, while a protected crop might consume up to 40 acre-inches. Water requirement is high from transplanting to fruit setting. It peaks during early fruit development and is much lower during ripening. A minor water stress during the ripening stage could improve fruit firmness, sugar content, taste, and shelf-life, but may result in reduced fruit size.

Processing tomato ready for harvest
Freshly harvested processing tomato

Nutrient requirements

Estimated nutrient uptake (kg/t):


Source: IPNI

Dynamic of nutrient uptake over a crop season in tomato

Role of nutrients

Key parameterNP2O5K2OMgSC
Vegetative growth++++++
Fruit setting- (*)
Fruit number+
Fruit firmness+
Fruit color+++
+ = improving; - = decreasing; +/- = different results, depending on the rate of nutrient applied

(*) Excess of N fertilization can delay the reproductive stage

Nutrient deficiencies

NitrogenGeneral chlorosis of the older leaves on a plant. Slower growth and smaller plants; fewer flowers and reduced yield
PhosphorusPlants develop very slowly and are stunted even at maturity. Brighter color than normal, lower leaf surface is grey-green. Leaflets roll upwards under severe deficiency. P deficiency occurs more frequently on calcareous or very acidic soils, where P can be fixed
PotassiumSymptoms appear on young, full-sized leaves. Deficiency symptoms include 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. More common on light leached soils.
CalciumNecrosis of leaf base, blossom-end rot (collapsing of the distal part of the fruit). Deficiencies are severe in soils with pH below 5, but can also be induced by salinity stress or heat stress.
MagnesiumSymptoms appear first on older leaves, general chlorosis while veins remain green.
In severe cases, scorched appearance due to interveinal necrosis. It may occur on sandy soils, and when high K rates are applied.
SulfurSymptoms are similar to N deficiency, but the chlorosis is uniform and general throughout the entire plant, including younger leaves.
Typical reddish color develops on petioles and leaf veins.
BoronSymptoms generally start on young leaves, as lighter color. Severe deficiency shows on older leaves as interveinal chlorosis, which develops to deep yellow-orange hue.
Brittle leaves that may show rolled-up edges. Corky stem-end of the fruit in tomatoes.
ChlorideAbnormally shaped leaves, with distinct interveinal chlorosis, chlorosis occurs on smooth flat depressions in the interveinal area of the leaf blade. In more advanced cases there appears a characteristic bronzing on the upper side of mature leaves. It can be found in highly leached inland areas.
CopperCurled leaves, with petioles bent downward. May be expressed as a light overall chlorosis along with permanent loss of turgor in the young leaves. Recently matured leaves show netted, green veining with areas bleaching to a whitish grey.
IronIron deficiency starts out as an interveinal chlorosis of the youngest leaves, evolves into an overall chlorosis, and ends as a totally bleached leaf. Leaf green color may recover upon application of iron.
ManganeseAt the earlier stages, light chlorosis appears on the young leaves, at more severe cases, mature leaves show netted veins. Then leaves develop brown-grey necrosis along the veins. It occurs on high pH or calcareous soils, or excessively limed soils.
MolybdenumAn early symptom for molybdenum deficiency is overall chlorosis, very similar to nitrogen deficiency, but without the reddish coloration on the undersides of the leaves. An upward cupping of the leaves and mottled spots, developing into large interveinal chlorotic areas under severe deficiency.
ZincIt causes stunting of plants and upwards rolling of young leaves. Grey-brown to bronze areas may develop on the leaves. It appears on alkaline soils, or when high P is applied.


Tomato Trials

H2Flo on Tomatoes
Florida, USA, 2014


Water conservation
Polysulphate on Tomatoes
Beit-Ezra, Israel , 2017


Marketable Yield Increase

Guides & Articles


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

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

  • Maintain steady levels of moisture to your plants. Use a balanced fertilizer. Avoid working too close to the roots of the tomato plant. Check your soil pH before planting. Add calcium to your soil or with foliar application.

  • The nutritional requirements of a tomato change with the season and stages of growth. To obtain an optimal crop, the composition of the fertilizer and its amount must be adjusted to the growing stage. 

Need expert advice on your plant nutrition plan?

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