Tomato is the common name given to the plant Solanum lycopersicum L. (formerly known as Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) (Solanaceae) and to its edible fruit. This fruit is one of the most widely produced and consumed vegetables in the world, for fresh as well as for processed consumption (e.g. sauce, ketchup).
Tomato plants do best on well-drained soils that are slightly acidic. Although tomato is a perennial plant, it is usually cultivated as an annual. Its cultivars are mostly classified as determinate or indeterminate. The former bear their entire crop at one time and grow to a specific height, whereas the indeterminate varieties develop into vines and continue growing and producing fruit. In addition the indeterminate, grow only to a specific height but produce a second crop. In the field tomato is usually grown as recumbent plant, but in greenhouses it is trellised and may grow to a height of two meters or more. The stem produces a number of compound leaves, and they as well as the stem are covered with trichomes. Many trichomes have glandular heads, which contain toxic excretions and serve to repel pests.
The tomato fruit is a fleshy berry containing a soft inner tissue (the columella) surrounded by seeds, a soft pericarp and a thin skin which turns from green to red as the fruit matures. The fruit of the various cultivars (of which there are several thousand) comes in many shapes, from large (up to 7 cm in diameter) and rounded, to small, cluster-like, 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter), as well as oval-shaped.
In Israel the commonly grown varieties are #1420 and #1912, and many others are in development. Transgenic tomato cultivars were constructed but failed, mostly due to environmental concerns and to the availability of unmodified cultivars that provide the same benefits.
World production of tomatoes came to about 110 million tons in 2003, of which China (ca 24% of total), USA (11%) and Turkey (8%, with 9,700,000 tons picked and 1,630,000 tons processed in 2005) were the main producers. About 405,000 tons were harvested in Israel in 2005, of which 230,000 tons were processed. In Jordan ca 50,000 tons were processed in the same year and in Syria 420,000 tons were picked, of which about 135,000 tons were processed.
Major tomato pests in the Middle East
Atherton, J.G. and Rudich, J. (Eds). The Tomato Crop. A Scientific Basis for Improvement. Chapman & Hall, London, pp. 661.
Heuvelink, E. (Ed) 2005. Tomatoes. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp. 339.
Wakil, W., Brust, G.E. and Perring, T.M. 2018. Sustainable Management of Arthropod Pests of Tomato. Academic Press.