Labour is required for the correct cultivation of quality tomatoes

Our tomatoes are grown in greenhouses. Our employees perform the work in the greenhouse. Growing tomatoes is very labour intensive. A rough indication is that 5 to 7 FTEs are required per hectare on average to perform all the activities.

Works Managers supervise all employees together with the team leaders on how the activities must be performed to deliver a high-quality product to our clients.

Different activities in the greenhouse

  • Staking/side-shoot removing/pruning
  • Removing leaves from the plant
  • Harvesting (vine) tomatoes
  • Weighing the tomato packs
  • Dropping the plants
  • Positioning the stems correctly and removing the side shoots from the bottom

Every week, the tomato plant continues to grow more and more and the plant must be guided to follow the string. This is referred to as staking. Shoots also develop in the axillary buds of the plant when the plant is growing. They are referred to as side shoots (or suckers). Since we do not want these side shoots, they are also removed each week from the plant. A new bunch of flowers develops on the plant each week from where the (vine) tomatoes develop. The end of the flower is removed so that vine tomatoes always consist of the same number to have a beautiful vine tomato develop. This is called pruning.

Three leaves grow in-between every bunch on the plant. We leave the leaves on the plant for a long period of time until they do not have a purpose any more. Next we remove the leaves from the plant. This takes place on a weekly basis.

On average, (vine) tomatoes are harvested from the plant one and a half times or twice a week. Workers cut off the ripe vines from the plants. Loose and beef tomatoes are plucked.

The harvested tomatoes are taken to Greenpack that very same day to be packaged or, if they are immediately placed in a box, they will be weighed in our own building based on the weight specifications that are requested by our clients.
The tomato plant is led through a string to ensure it is kept in a correct position and uniformly. The string is wrapped around a hook. The string is made longer every week by allowing the hook to unroll a turn. We call this ‘dropping’.
The stem of the tomato plant will become longer and longer every week. This means that the tomato plant will end up on the floor, but the stems are placed in a bracket away from the ground for hygienic reasons. New shoots also grow on the stems (bottom side shoots) that we also remove because they are redundant for the plant.

These are the most labour intensive activities during tomato growing that is all performed by people. In addition to the daily activities in the greenhouse, workers are also involved in maintaining the technical systems, cleaning, quality assurance, energy management, HRM and administration.