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Tomato Cultivation: Tomato Harvest Methods.

Harvest Methods-

Tomatoes should be removed from the plant by gently twisting or rotating them in order to cleanly remove the stem from the fruit. The stems in most field-type tomato cultivars release at the point of attachment to the fruit (termed ‘joint less’). However in some cultivars, a natural abscission layer or break point forms at the junction of the stem and the stalk when the fruit is mature (termed ‘jointed’). With these cultivars, pickers should grasp the fruit firmly but gently and pull upward with the thumb and forefinger pressed against the stem.

The stem should then be carefully removed prior to putting the fruit in the harvest container to prevent puncture wounds of adjacent fruit. Workers should wear cotton gloves during picking to minimize harvest damage and to protect the skin of the fingers. If gloves are not worn, all fingernails should be trimmed short to avoid puncturing the skin. Jewellery such as rings and bracelets should also be removed to reduce mechanical damage to the fruit during harvest. Harvested fruits should not be thrown or dropped into the picking container, as they are very susceptible to bruise damage.

The picking container should have smooth inner walls to prevent abrasion of the fruit. Ideally, picking containers should be wide, shallow, and stackable to avoid excessive weight and bruising of tomatoes at the bottom of the container. A well-ventilated plastic crate is ideal. It is recommended not to fill the container with more than 10 kg of fruit. Tomatoes may suffer compression injury if piled too high in the picking container. This is especially problematic if the fruit are picked in the afternoon with a high pulp temperature.

Tomatoes should be picked during the coolest part of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon. If they are picked in the morning, harvest should be delayed until the moisture has dried off the fruit surface. Tomatoes should never be picked in the rain or when they are wet. Harvesting wet fruit encourages the spread of decay. It is also important to avoid picking the fruit when it has a pulp temperature over 25°C (77°F). Fruit with higher pulp temperatures is very susceptible to pressure bruising when squeezed too hard during the picking process. Fruit should never be allowed to remain in the sun for extended periods. Tomatoes held in the sun for an hour on a hot, sunny day can be 10°C (50°F) hotter than fruit kept in the shade.

Fruit which are injured, diseased, or unmarketable should be removed from the plant and not mixed in the same harvest container as the marketable fruit. The culled fruit should be removed from the field to avoid the build-up of insect pests and diseases.