Tutoring vegetables is an important part of modern agriculture although the materials and tutoring methods have changed as time has moved on, from tutoring with traditional raffia, to using horticultural trellis netting which has become popular in recent years.
Solanaceae (tomatoes, chili peppers and eggplants/aubergines), cucurbits (chayote, pumpkin, cantaloupe melons, watermelons etc.) are amongst the various crops that require a support system allowing them to grow and preventing their stems and branching stems from buckling under the weight of their fruits. The way that vegetable tutoring is carried out is vitally important due to the changing weather conditions that the crop will be subjected to: strong winds, heavy rains etc. These can leave the crop prone to developing diseases such as funguses, bacteria and/or viruses.
Tutoring tomatoes in an open field using double rowed tutoring net
Tutoring tomatoes using double rowed support netting inside a simple greenhouse
In order to tutor vegetable crops, it is recommended that a horticultural support netting (or trellis netting) is used instead of agricultural raffia. Netting is more hard-wearing, made from a single piece, re-usable and easy to install. On the other hand, raffia is less resistant for tutoring vegetables, made up of various strands that can retain moisture, is not re-usable and requires a large workforce to install it.
A close up of the fasteners being used with double rowed support netting on a crop of tomato plants. It is important to provide enough support to the young plant.
Tutoring Vegetables using a double wall along both sides of the furrow
Tomatoes are best tutored using a double rowed system of support netting (in sandwich or “V” formation). This method of tutoring facilitates the carrying out of various agricultural tasks. Double rowed tutoring can also be used to great advantage with crops of chillies. The plants are neatly encased and supported by the netting and the aisles are kept clear, enabling the farm workers to easily apply fertilizers and/or herbicides and insecticides. When tutoring hayotes squash, cucumbers or eggplants (aubergines) and other curcubits, a single row of support netting is generally used. With chayotes and cucumbers, their tendrils allow the plants to climb up the trellis netting in order to get better sun exposure. For this reason, the work load is reduced as the plants climb up by themselves and there is not so much of a need to guide them manually.
A cucumber crop being tutored with vegetable support netting.
Close up of a cucumber crop being tutored by support netting.
Some of the diseases than most affect crops are transmitted manually, that is, by the handling of the seedlings from when they are transplanted and later when they are being tutored. These activities along with mismanagement of sanitary issues create the ideal circumstances for disease to be transmitted. Tutoring crops with HORTOMALLAS prevents the crops from being in contact with the damp soil, allows for adequate spacing and better ventilation and sun exposure. Additionally, it reduces the handling of the plants and the work force needed, helping to prevent the manual transmission of diseases.