Journal of Plant Sciences
Volume 5, Issue 1, February 2017, Pages: 1-5

Performance Evaluation of Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Varieties Under Supplemental Irrigation at Erer Valley, Babile District, Ethiopia

Gebisa Benti*, Gezu Degefa, Alemayehu Biri, Fikadu Tadesse

Department of Horticulture, Fedis Agricultural Research Center, Harar, Ethiopia

Email address:

(G. Benti)

*Corresponding author

To cite this article:

Gebisa Benti, Gezu Degefa, Alemayehu Biri, Fikadu Tadesse. Performance Evaluation of Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) Varieties Under Supplemental Irrigation at Erer Valley, Babile District, Ethiopia. Journal of Plant Sciences. Vol. 5, No. 1, 2017, pp. 1-5. doi: 10.11648/j.jps.20170501.11

Received: November 4, 2016; Accepted: November 25, 2016; Published: January 18, 2017

Abstract: Farmers in Babile district of Ethiopia cultivate tomato from unknown seed sources and small fruit sizes, which lead to low fruit yield. The framers also produce this variety only during main cropping season even though irrigation water is available. Farmers should produce improved tomato variety at least two times per year using irrigation water to increase their production on their limited land. As tomato is being consumed, growers have to grow crops with high yield, good quality and well performed to their environment. Considering these problems, a field experiment was conducted at the Erer valley on farmers land during offseason of the two consecutive years to evaluate tomato varieties under irrigation water and recommend high fruit yielding variety to the area. The results revealed that there was significant (P≤0.05) differences among varieties for plant height, days to flowering, fruits per cluster, clusters per plant, average fruit weight and fruit yield per hectare, except primary branches per plant. 'Melkashola' and 'Bishola' out yielded among the varieties; 30.86 t ha-1 and 26.96 t ha-1, respectively over the two years. 'Melkashola' and 'Bishola' 'Melkashola' and 'Bishola' advanced fruit yield per hectare by about 40% and 35% over the 'Babile local', respectively. However, farmers preferred 'Melkashola' due to its fruit size and shape over 'Bishola' which is extreme in fruit size and was susceptible to sun scald. Therefore, 'Melkashola' was recommended to the area for its high fruit yield per hectare under irrigation during offseason cropping.

Keywords: Bishola, Irrigation, Melkashola, Tomato

1. Introduction

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is one of the most important edible and nutritious vegetable crops in the world. It ranks next to potato and sweet potato with respect to world vegetable production. It is widely cultivated in tropical, sub-tropical and temperate climates and thus ranks third in terms of world vegetable production [7]. The leading tomato producing countries are China, the United State of America, India, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia [7]. A total of 7,255.93 hectares of land was under tomato in the country and yielding about 81,738.05 tones of tomato production in Ethiopia [4]. Tomato is an essential ingredient in the diet of the people and often used in almost every household. It is used in preparing soups, sauces, stews, salads and other dishes, and used in large quantities as compared to other vegetables [5]. The fruit is fairly nutritious and contains high amount of vitamins A and C [3]. Such diverse uses make the tomato an important vegetable in irrigated agriculture in Ethiopia and the production is rapidly increasing in many parts of the country. However, local production of tomato in eastern Harerghe is not able to meet the domestic demand. This has led to high supply of tomato from other parts of the country. The landholding of Ethiopian farmers is so much fragmented with most farmers owning a piece of land less than a hectare. The rainfall pattern is so erratic and intensive throughout when it rains. Currently, it is being tried to harvest rain water using different water harvesting structures and using it in combination with gravity drip system. This is useful especially for vegetable production which can augment farmers’ income and nutritional intake.

Tomato generally requires warm weather and abundant sunshine for best growth and development. The climatic soil conditions of Ethiopia allow cultivation of a wide range of fruit and vegetable crops including tomato, which is largely grown in the eastern and central parts of the mid- to low-land areas of the country. Large scale production of tomato takes place in the upper Awash valley, under irrigated and rain-fed conditions whereas small scale production for fresh market is a common practice around Koka, Ziway, Wondo-Genet, Guder, Bako and many other areas [11]. In 2008, tomato production in Ethiopia reached about 41, 815 tons from a total harvested area of 3542 ha [8]. The shortage of varieties and recommended information packages, poor irrigation systems, lack of information on soil fertility, diseases and insect pests, high postharvest loss, lack of awareness of existing improved technology and poor marketing system are the major constraints in Ethiopian tomato production [11]. In Ethiopia, several tomato varieties had been released nationally and recommended by the Melkassa Agricultural Research Center for commercial production and small scale farming systems in Ethiopia. Varieties such as 'Melkashola' and Marglobe' are widely produced while 'Melkasalsa' and 'Heinz 1350' have limited distribution and production. On the other hand, 'Fetan', 'Bishola', 'Eshete' and 'Matedel' are being tested [11]. In Eastern part of Ethiopia, especially Harerghe farmers produce locally known tomato variety on their gardens which is very small in size and low fruit yield. Tomato production is rare due to shortage of rainfall and irrigation water unavailability. However, some farmers those settled around the rift valley of Babile produce local tomato on small units of land for consumption and rarely for income generation. Therefore, it is important to evaluate different tomato varieties under irrigation during offseason to recommend high fruit yielding variety/varieties for the study area. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate performance of tomato varieties under supplemental irrigation and recommend the best performed variety.

2. Materials and Methods

The study site, Erer valley of Babile Woredas, is located at 34 km from Harar city in eastern direction in eastern part of Ethiopia in Oromia Regional State at lowland of Harerghe Zone. The altitude of the area ranges between 950 - 2000 meters at sea level and, latitude of 09°10'41.5" and 042°15'27.3", respectively. The area receives an average annual rainfall of about 400 - 600mm. Ten tomato varieties were used in the experiment, five of which are determinate (Chali, Bishola, Melka Shola, Melka Salsa, Fetane) while another four are indeterminate (Miya, Eshete, Metadel and R/VF). The one variety is farmers variety (Babile local). The study was conducted under irrigation for two consecutive years during offseason. Seedlings were raised in nursery beds at Erer valley, the beds were thoroughly prepared, 5m x 1m in size, raised 15 cm from the soil surface. The seeds were sown in rows spaced 10cm apart and covered lightly with fine soil before irrigation. The beds were irrigated every two days until germination then twice a week. The treatments consisted of nine improved and one farmers (Babile local) tomato. The experimental plots were laid out in Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with three replications. Tomato seedlings were carefully transplanted at 12 cm height to the prepared plots with 4 m x 1.8 m dimensions to accommodate 24 plants per plot at a recommended spacing of 100 cm x 30 cm between rows and plants, respectively (Lemma, 2002). Furrow irrigation was applied weekly from pond through water pump. Standard agronomic practices such as weeding, cultivation, irrigation, fertilizer application and staking were carried out uniformly during the growing season for all plots. Fruit was harvested at the mature green stage. All quantitative data (days to 50% flowering, number of branches per plant, plant height (cm), number of bunches per plant, average number of fruits per bunches, average fruit weight (g), fruit yield per hectare (kg/ha)) were collected. Data were analyzed using GenSTAT statistical software package and mean values or Least Significant Differences (LSD) were compared using the procedures of Duncan's at the 5% level of significance.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Plant Height and Branches

Eshete and Babile local had significantly (P ≤ 0.05) different from the others in plant height in the two years of cropping (Figure 1), however, Melkasalsa, Bishola and Miya were significantly (P<0.05) different in number of branches in the 2012/2013 cropping season only. The mean value of plant height ranges between 39.34 cm and 96.67 cm. The tallest plant was 'Eshete' followed by 'Babile local', 'R/VF' and 'Melkashola' over the two years while the shortest were 'Chali', 'Miya', Melkasalsa' and 'Fetane'(Table 2). This study was in agreement with the findings of Meseret et al., 2012) who stated that the plant height of tomato varieties range between 40.20 cm and 107.00 cm. These results coincide with the findings of [9] and [12] also reported differences in plant height among cultivars/hybrids of tomato put under evaluation and screening trials. The tallness, shortness and other morphological differences are varietal characteristics, which are controlled and expressed by certain genes.

Melkasalsa was the only variety significantly (P<0.05) different in the number of primary branches from the remaining varieties in 2012/2013(Figure 2). However, it did not show significant differences over the two years (Table 2). These results are in close conformity with the findings of [16] who reported significant variation among the cultivars of tomato for the number of branches per plant.

3.2. Flowering Days, Fruits Cluster Per Plant and Fruit Number Per Cluster

Melkashola was the only significantly (P<0.05) different variety in days of flowering in 2012/2013; however, it did not show significant differences in the 2013/2014 (Figure 3). The period between transplanting and flowering ranged from 36 to 42 days. This findings was in line with the statement of Meseret et al. (2012) who put days to flowering of tomato varieties between 38 to 49 days. This differences might be due to the high temperature (about 35°C) of the study area that could speed up the growth of reproductive parts of the plant. Fruit cluster per plant and fruits per plant were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) different among the varieties for the two consecutive years (Table 1). The mean fruit clusters per plant laid between 7 to 16 while the number of fruits per cluster ranged from 1.67 to 3.33 in the 2012/2013 and. 'Melkashola' and 'Babile local' provided the highest fruit clusters per plant while 'Eshete' and 'Fetane' were the lowest. Low fruits per cluster was obtained from 'Chali', 'Bishola' and 'Fetane' while maximum number of fruits per cluster obtained from 'Metadel'. This study was in agreement with the findings of [10] and [1] who indicated that average number of fruits per cluster lay between 2.27 and 5.89. However, [13] reversely stated that except for 'Jimma local', all the tomato varieties tested achieved the maximum number of fruits per cluster. This result was in agreement with findings of [17] who reported that the maximum number of fruits per plant was obtained with ‘Melka shola’ (75.33) followed by ‘Melka-selsa’ (64.33) and the minimum number was in varieties, ‘Fetan’ (15.0) and‘Mira-1’ (15.67).

3.3. Average Fruit Weight and Fruit Yields

Total fruit yield per hectare and average fruit weight were significantly (P ≤ 0.05) different among the varieties over the two years (Table 2). 'Bishola' and 'Metadel' were the biggest fruit size and maximum fruit weight while the remaining varieties were smallest in fruit weight and statistically in paired. Fruit weight might be attributed due to varietal genetic makeup as well as effect of ecological conditions. [2] also attributed poor tomato yield to non-development of flowers into fruits and he found that only 50% of the flowers produced developed into fruits and limit the size and weight of fruits. The maximum fruit yield per hectare were obtained from 'Melkashola', 'Bishola' while the minimum were from 'Chali', 'Fetan' and 'Babile local'(Table 2). The mean values ranged between 18557 kg/ha and 30863 kg/ha. Other tomato researchers ([15]; [11]; [6]; [13]) showed that total fruit yield ranged between 6.46 and 82.50 t/ha. 'Bishola provided maximum fruit yield next to 'Melkashola' due to its maximum fruit weight because fruit weight, fruit clusters per plant and number of fruits per plant are directly correlated to fruit yield. The varietals differences in growth and yield might be attributed to the differences in ecological distribution of the tomato varieties [14]. Besides the differences of varietal genetic makeup, the low marketable yield obtained for some tomato varieties used might be due to non-development of flowers into fruits as about 50% of the flowers developed into fruits.

Table 1. Mean performance of fruit yields and some agronomic parameters for the two consecutive years.

2012/2013 2013/2014
Varieties Fruit clusters/plant Number of Fruits/cluster Fruit weight (g) Fruit/yield (kg/ha) Clusters/
Fruit weight (g) Fruit/yield (kg/ha)
Miya 9.33d 2.67ab 43.00b 22827abc 23.00bc 3.67ab 40.00b 26696ab
Chali 9.00d 2.00ab 44.17b 17708c 19.53c 3.33ab 41.17b 21280ab
Bishola 12.00c 3.00ab 85.33a 27351ab 18.40c 2.33cd 90.33a 30030ab
Eshete 8.00d 3.00ab 40.33b 25476abc 14.67c 3.00bc 38.33b 28452ab
M/Shola 15.67ab 3.33a 49.67b 29673a 41.67ab 3.33ab 45.67b 32054a
M/Salsa 7.67d 2.33ab 35.00b 22560abc 28.00bc 4.00a 30.33b 27321ab
Fetan 7.00d 1.67b 44.83b 18393c 15.13c 2.00d 48.83b 19881b
R/ VF 16.33a 3.33a 42.00b 17708c 28.73bc 3.33ab 39.00b 20089b
Matedel 14.00bc 2.33ab 77.00a 23780abc 17.27c 3.00bc 84.00a 26756ab
Local 13.67bc 3.33a 35.00b 19464bc 52.13a 3.67ab 33.00b 20655ab
LSD 2.17 1.2 16.4 7496.8 17.39 0.8 23.32 10351.3
CV% 11.2 26 19.3 19.4 39.2 14.8 27.7 23.8

NS: non-significant, * Significant at P≤0.05, Means in the same column sharing the same letter(s) are not significantly different at P=0.05.

Table 2. Mean performance of yield and some agronomic parameter over the two years (2012-2014).

Treatments Plant height (cm) Branches/
50% Flowering days Clusters/
Fruits/Cluster Fruit weight (g) Fruit yield (kg/ha)
Miya 44.63cd 7.800 36.50c 14.87de 3.167ab 41.50b 24762abc
Chali 39.43d 7.100 39.17abc 14.27def 2.667b 42.67b 19494c
Bishola 56.23bcd 7.567 37.00c 15.43d 2.667b 87.83a 28690a
Eshete 96.67a 6.833 39.67abc 11.83ef 3.000ab 39.33b 26964ab
M/shola 60.87bc 7.300 42.00a 24.63a 3.333ab 47.67b 30863a
M/salsa 46.23cd 8.067 38.50bc 17.50cd 3.167ab 32.67b 24940abc
Fetan 46.40cd 6.433 39.67abc 11.07f 1.883c 46.83b 19137c
R/ VF 64.00bc 6.833 37.67c 20.37bc 3.333ab 40.50b 20402bc
Matedel 53.03bcd 6.633 36.17c 15.63d 3.667a 80.50a 25268abc
Local 71.07b 6.767 40.67ab 23.33ab 3.500ab 34.00b 18557c
LSD 24.6 NS 4.359 4.304 0.9754 19.04 8478.1
CV% 25.7 31.4 6.8 15.4 20.1 23.3 21.5

NS: non-significant, * Significant at P≤0.05, Means in the same column sharing the same letter(s) are not significantly different at P=0.05.

Figure 1. Response of varieties on plant height over the two years.

Figure 2. Response of varieties on number of branches per plant over the two years.

Figure 3. Response of varieties on flowering date over the two years.

4. Conclusion and Recommendation

Tomato is one of the most widely accepted fruits in the world. As tomato is being consumed, growers have to grow crops with high yield, good quality and well performed to their environment. As indicated in the results there was significant differences among the varieties for all parameters, except average number of primary branches per plant. 'Melkashola' and 'Bishola' were increased fruit yield per hectare by about 40% and 35% over the 'Babile local'. However, farmers preferred 'Melkashola' due to its fruit size and shape over 'Bishola' which is extreme fruit size. Therefore, 'Melkashola' was recommended to the area for its high fruit yield per hectare under irrigation during offseason cropping.


We are greatly indebted to the Oromia Agricultural Research Institute for funding the research. We are also most grateful to Amsalu Wegari and Adane Ashebir for their involvements in field data collection. Great thanks also go to Yusuf Usmael who provided experimental land for the success of this research experiment.


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