Tomatoes are one of the most important vegetables in the world with global production exceeding 177 million metric tons per year.

However, despite the massive production of tomato, pests are a constant nuisance that may deprive you a bountiful harvest as a tomato grower.

We realize that regardless of the steps you take in guiding against pests, they are inevitable. You can only have a concrete plan in place to curtail their attack; thus, the need for pesticide for tomatoes.

As usual, we have created a guide that will show you everything you need to know about tomato pests and the pesticides you can use to prevent and eliminate pest invasions.

Our interest is to see you enjoy productive cultivation of tomatoes, and we hope this guide will be a compass that leads you on how to achieve that.

Now, let’s progress by clarifying what pests are.

What are pests?

Many times, what comes to your mind as a farmer when you hear the mention of pests are tiny insects that attack your farm and eat of the vegetative parts of crops.

Far from that, pest encompasses any organisms, both plants and animals that are capable of causing damage to both livestock and animals.

However, because we are dealing with tomato production in this article, our attention shall be focused on any pests associated with the cultivation of tomato.

Classification of Pests

There are several classes of pests; we have the weeds, insect pests, microorganism which includes fungi, bacteria, nematode, and virus.

Pesticide for Tomato

Pesticides have proven to be a long time solution to most pests ravaging our farmland. Pesticide is a chemical known to kill and prevent weeds, insects, fungi and so on.  Among other means of curbing the pest anomalies, pesticides have stood out to be the best method a farmer can ever follow in incapacitating, killing and preventing pest.

Classification of Pesticide

Pesticides are classified based on how they operate. It is classified into different categories which are;

  • Classification based on target organism: Examples of these are herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, rodenticide, nematicide and so on.
  • Chemical Structure: Examples are organic, inorganic, synthetic or biological otherwise known as a biopesticide.
  • Physical state: Gaseous and fumigant.

All of these are used in determining the kind of pesticide suitable for plants, but the most important of all is the classification based on target nature. As pesticide have been classified, it is, therefore, necessary to talk about how each of the classifications by nature works.

Weeds: Definition and Control

Weeds are plants whether beneficial or not that grow in places where they were not intentionally planted. Weeds are notorious for competing with the plants for nutrients, space, moisture and sunlight.

Another factor that makes weeds management and control critical especially in tomato is that weeds can be really aggressive.

While tomato plants are tender and require much care, weeds are rugged and can thrive with little supply of moisture and nutrients.

How to Control Weeds in Tomato Farm

Multiple ways exist through which you can get rid of weeds in your farm. We have the cultural method, biological control, mechanical method and the use of the chemical. The chemical used in the control of weeds is called herbicide.

No other methods can indeed serve the purpose effectively like the use of the chemical. The reasons are not farfetched; herbicides are highly efficient in the control of weeds especially in large scale farming.

Imagine having to uproot weed in ten hectares of tomato farmland manually. I could bet it would take you donkey years even if you employed labors.

Mechanized farming is excellent but useless when it comes to weeding a tomato farm.

You can only employ machinery in pre-planting stages, which brings us to a safer and more pragmatic approach – the use of chemical (herbicides) for weed control

Major Insect Pests of Tomato

Because tomato fruits are succulent and juicy, it is an easy target for many insects in the field. Some of the insect pests that attack tomato include;

  • Aphids:Aphids are known for their ability to increase significantly. They are known to attack tomato plant at the early stage of planting and on the stem. It is a dense tiny little insect which is known to cause severe damage to tomatoes
  • Whiteflies: Whiteflies are the main distributor of the disease tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) with their laying of eggs underside tomato leaves. Their feeding on fruits and leaves of tomato is a common cause of irregular ripening disorder in greenhouse tomatoes.
  • Hornworms:Hornworms a green caterpillar known to be a massive leaves eater.  This kind of defoliation greatly has a negative impact on the productivity of the fruits. Some more mature hornworms go as far as feeding on the fruits.
  • Cutworm:Another pest that constitutes a major threat to the existence of tomato farming is cutworm. Cutworm is a tiny young grub caterpillar known always feed on the stem at night and known to feed seedling till it fell down.
  • Thrips:This is also one of the common pests that attack tomato farming. It serves as a vector in tomato wilt virus disease. Their bodies are long, slender, and small, and light coloured to brown or yellow. The wings of thrips have long hairs on the margins.
  • Tomato Fruit worm:Tomato fruitworm is one of the most destructive insect pests ravaging tomato farming. It causes severe damages to tomato farming by causing small holes in the stem of the fruit.
  • Colorado Potato Beetle (CPB):Their feeding on tomato can cause a reduction in the yield and in some extreme cases kills the plant. One of the main factors that showcase CPB as a major threat is its ability to develop resistance to insecticides that are used frequently to control them.

Other notable mentions include:

  • Verticillium Wilt.
  • Fusarium wilt
  • Damping off
  • Beet armyworm
  • Yellow striped armyworm
  • Cabbage loopers
  • Two-spotted spider mites
  • Flea Beetles and so on.

Insecticides for Tomato

Insecticides are chemical substances mainly used to kill insects. It consists of ovicides and larvicides used to guide against insect eggs and larvae.

Insecticides can alter the ecosystem as it may be toxic to other essential insects such as earthworms, butterfly, bees as well as birds.

Therefore, it is imperative to take caution in applying insecticides. Ensure that they are properly engaged, and use necessary safety tools during the application process.

Classification of Insecticides

Insecticide can be classified into two major groups. They are

  • Contact Pesticide for the Control of Whiteflies

Contact insecticides serve its purpose according to its name. This kind of insecticide works by coming in contact with the insect. Insecticides will deprive the larvae and pupa of oxygen which will eventually lead to their death.

Contact insecticides are known to work at a faster rate compared to systemic insecticide. But to guarantee a maximum result, it is worthy of note to make sure you the entire farmland where there is insect attack. The inability to do this can create a safe abode for these destructive creatures.

  • Systemic insecticides

Systemic insecticides have a long term or residual activity. Even though its slower compare to contact insecticide, it is advisable for farmers to use as this does not need any form of contact between the insects and insecticides.

Once the gas odour filled the environment in which the insects are or the gas being absorbed by insecticides, then it will serve its function of incapacitating the insects.

Types of insecticides

Insecticides have three main categories which include:

  • Organic insecticides:They are an organic chemical compound which works mainly by contact.
  • Inorganic insecticides:This kind of insecticide comes in the form of metallic compounds.
  • Natural insecticides:They act as a natural defence against insects.

Common insecticides for tomato

There are different types of insecticides used in controlling insect invading tomato. But in this article, we have curated some of the best, efficient and effective you can use in controlling pest ravaging you tomato farm. They are:

Abamectin is known to be used to controlling insect and mite pest. They are commonly used to control insects attacking agronomic, vegetable, tomato and fruits plants.   

Imidacloprid is an insecticide naturally found in many plants, including tobacco, and is toxic to insects. It is used to control termites, sucking insects some soil insects, and fleas on pets.

Indoxacarb is an active ingredient in Syngenta commercial pesticide. One of the things which make it stand out is its ability to remain active even after digestion.

Chlorpyrifos is a contact insecticide that acts as a poison to a wide variety of pests. Categorised under the class of organophosphates, Chlorpyrifos mode of action is through the interference with the activities of the enzyme cholinesterase which is responsible for normal functioning of the nervous system of the targeted pests.

Chlorpyrifos exists in many forms such as emulsifiable concentrate, powder, granule, dust, flowable, wettable powder and spray. It is rated as a broad spectrum insecticide with the ability to destroy whiteflies and numerous other pests such as termites, cutworm, flies, corn rootworms, flea beetle and grubs.

Fungicide

Fungicide is a chemical compound used to kill parasitic or their spores. Most fungicide comes in liquid form, and its main active ingredient is sulfur. Tomatoes are highly susceptible to fungi attack. Let’s briefly discuss on what a fungus are a common fungus that attacks tomato.

What are a fungi

A fungus is any member of the group of eukaryotic organism. They include micro-organisms such as yeasts, mushrooms and molds. These organisms belong to the kingdom, fungi, which is different from all other eukaryotic life kingdoms of both plants and animals.

Common Tomato Diseases caused by Fungi

  • Anthracnose Fruit Rot:They usually attack ripe tomatoes with their soil-borne disease. Infections that this kind of fungi wreck goes unnoticed on green fruit and as the fruit ripens depressed circular water-soaked spots appear on red fruit. These spots may slowly enlarge to about 1/4-inch in diameter and produce black fungal structures (microsclerotia) in the centre of the lesion just below the skin surface. Microsclerotia can overwinter in the soil and serve as a source of inoculum for the next growing season.
  • Septoral leaf is borne:Septoral leaf borne is also a soil-borne disease which wreaks their havoc by infecting the stem and leaves of tomato. When the infection grows to a stage, it will leave a yellow circular dot on the leaf which will make it wither and die. The disease is so significant that if its infect plant early in the growing season, it can render all the plant defoliant.
  • Early Blight:They are known to attack foliage or fruits. Early blight will appear as circular black or brown spots on a leaf, and as the time increases, a series of dark concentric rings develop in the centre of the spot creating a distinct target pattern.

Early Blight wreaks their havoc by infecting the fruit through the calyx or stems attachment in the immature green or red stage and can produce distinct target-like lesions similar to a foliar infection.

  • Buckeye Rot:It is one of the most common fungicides affecting tomatoes. They attack both mature and immature plants that they could lay their hands on. It symptoms come in the form of brownish-black lesions that have a definite concentric or target-like appearance.

Common Fungicide for Tomato

Fungicides that can effectively curb the spread of fungi diseases are numerous. However, let’s check a few of the most prevalent ones;

Tebuconazole Fungicide is a broad spectrum systemic foliar fungicide belonging to the Triazole chemical group. It is highly effective against a wide range of fungal diseases such as Sheath Blight, Rust, Anthracnose, Spots and many more. Tebuconazole can be applied to farms containing tomato, vegetables, corn and several other plants. The mode of action of Tebuconazole is through the inhibition of enzymes that form cell membrane is fungi.

  • Diniconazole
  • It is also a system fungicide which acts as a curative and preventive measure against many fungi diseases in tomato, vegetables, cotton, fruits, etc. You can apply Diniconzole to control diseases such as Fusarium, Powdery mildew, smut, rust, bunt, black spot and leaf spot. It is also highly effective in other ornamental crops.

Metalaxyl offers broad-spectrum activities in several fruits and vegetable crops including tomato. It is a system fungicide which can be applied through the vegetative parts of plants. Also, you can apply Metalaxyl directly into the soil during land preparation. It combines well with other active ingredients like carboxin and mancozeb to treat a lot of fungi infections in plants.

If you would want to read more about the other important fungicide, you can do so by checking here

Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) in Tomato

Plant Growth Receptors are compounds that have the ability to increase productivity in many plants.

Several researches have proven that PGR is particularly effective in tomato crop, and it has been reported to boost the yield, thereby giving you greater return from your commercial tomato production.

In tomato, there is a broad range of PGR that you can apply to boost the yield of your tomato fruit and at the same time enjoy a uniform ripening.

It belongs to the class of cytokinin benzene urea plant growth regulator. It can be widely used in various agricultural productions to boost crop productivities. The effects of Forchlorfenuron in tomato include; cell elongation, fruit enlargement, promotion of cell division and uniform fruit ripening.

Ethephon exists as a plant growth regulator mainly used to promote fruit ripening, flower induction, abscission in many plants. Ethephon application on tomato plants has a particularly beneficial effect on yield structure of tomato especially in regions with low rainfall. When applied to a green cluster of tomato fruits, it can accelerate the ripening and promote the health of tomato plants.

Here is a list of other plant growth regulators for your use.

Now that we have come to the end of our lessons on pesticides for tomato, I hope you have taken enough notes to help you become a better tomato grower.

Remember, you need to be sure chemical company that you buy from is highly reputable. Make sure that their products are highly effective and economical for your use.