The Back Story: Tomatoes in Spain

Tomatoes don’t grow without a little bit of help. All farmers must protect their crops. A recent study found that crop protection products increase Spanish field tomato yields by 85%1. One of the big threats to tomatoes in Spain is the white fly. Extensive feeding can leave a tomato plant open to mould and viruses spread by the pests. The good news: pesticides help defend tomato plants against the white fly.

Spanish tomato farmer Juan Vizcaino Escamilla and technical manager Isodoro Carricondo work with tomatoes every day, conducting research, growing tomatoes, defending against pests and caring for the plants. For nearly two decades, Juan Vizcaino has farmed tomatoes. ‘It’s a beautiful thing to be a farmer, because you work with living things.’

But he says it’s a daily struggle to get the plants to grow well, and that without pesticides, it would be impossible to grow tomatoes at the current quality, that is to say, pest and disease free.

Isodoro, who advises farmers in the region on technical aspects of farming tomatoes, said that the water, which is salty in the area where La Cañada-Níjar tomatoes are grown, is what helps make the tomatoes sweet and firm.

Juan Vizcaino and Isodoro have been profiled as #FoodHeroes because of the role they play in helping feed the world. Read more here.

Did You Know?

  • Spanish crop agriculture provides 560,000 direct jobs2
  • Tomatoes are grown all year round but the highest quality tomatoes are picked during the summer months
  • Tomatoes are natives of the New World and were first brought to Europe by Spanish conquistadores in the early 16th century.
  • La Tomatina is held every last Wednesday of every August in the town of Buñol. Tens of thousands of people flock to the town to take part in a giant tomato fight.
  • In warm or tropical climates, and especially in greenhouses, the white fly population increases significantly.
  • Over 1,400 species of white fly have been recorded worldwide and 56 of these species have been recorded in Europe3

1. Steward Redqueen. Cumulative impact of hazard-based legislation on crop protection products in Europe. Final report.  Published 21 July 2016. Page 48.
2. Steward Redqueen. Cumulative impact of hazard-based legislation on crop protection products in Europe. Final report.  Published 21 July 2016. Page 48.