Rolando Benosa of Sison, Pangasinan has a way of cutting the cost of planting materials for his cherry tomatoes. This is by rooting cuttings for planting.
One time, he produced no less than 1,500 rooted cuttings from just 100 seedlings of a hybrid variety. The resulting plants, he said, don’t only produce as prolifically, they also bear fruit earlier than those grown from seeds.
Usually, cherry tomatoes grown from seeds produce the first harvest in 80 to 90 days from planting. In the case of the plants from rooted cuttings, they bear fruit as early as 45 days from planting.
Benosa said that he uses compost of rice straw as potting medium for the cuttings. They readily produce roots but he recommends that the cuttings be sourced from indeterminate varieties, i.e., those that grow tall. The cuttings should be taken when the seedling plants are already flowering.
Benosa is one tomato farmer who specializes in cherry tomatoes for a very good reason. One very important reason is that cherry tomato fruits fetch a much higher price than the ordinary table tomato. For instance, as of March 15, 2014, he was selling his harvest at P100 to P120 per kilo to a Manila buyer. In the case of the ordinary table tomato, one kilo fetched only P7 per kilo. In fact, a week earlier, the farmgate price in Pangasinan was P3 per kilo, he added.
Benosa said he is growing the Floridity variety, a grape type cherry tomato, and an Italian variety called Pagano Constantino. This latter variety, he said, is non-cracking, crisp and with good shipping quality. After attending the Cherry Tomato Festival in Alcala, Pangasinan, he might also try planting the varieties from Known-You Philippines (KYP).
Last March 15, 2014, KYP showcased six promising cherry tomato hybrids being introduced in the country during the festival. These include Elf, Milton, Ruby, Sweet Ruby, Tropical Ruby and Season Red.
By the way, Benosa mentioned there is a big demand for cherry tomato. One buyer that he is supplying in Manila wants about 300 kilos per week. However, he could only ship 70 to 100 kilos a week because he is harvesting from only 350 plants. Later in April, he will be able to supply more because he expects to harvest from another 700 plants.
He has also been encouraging two other farmers to grow cherry tomato which he can supply to his buyers. One prospective buyer had mentioned to him he needs three tons a month. Another buyer from Davao City was so happy to have visited the farm of Benosa from whom he will be buying his requirements.
The Davao buyer said he has been buying his cherry tomato requirements from a source in Manila at P400 per kilo. Even if he will be shipping the cherry tomato from Benosa to Davao City, he would still be making a lot of savings.