Exceptionally tasty tomatoes all year round

Tomatoes are popular in Poland, but the continental climate is not suitable for year-round production. Andrzej Kornafel of Polskie Pomidory S.A. (Citronex) chose Hortilux grow lamps so that good, delicious tomatoes can be grown all year round. “You can taste the highest light levels on the market in the flavour of our tomatoes.”

Flavour of yesteryear

“Polish people are crazy about pink beefsteak tomatoes, also known as raspberry tomatoes. Every Pole used to grow these big tomatoes with a sweet flavour and pink flesh in their own greenhouse. We now supply tomatoes with the flavour of yesteryear.” So says Andrzej Kornafel, Operations Director of Polskie Pomidory and PPO “Siechnice”. The company is part of the Citronex group, the biggest tomato grower in Poland. Polskie Pomidory, located close to the German/Polish border, supplies tomatoes to large supermarkets and street markets in Poland all year round. As well as beefsteak tomatoes, PPO “Siechnice” also grows plum tomatoes and on-the-vine cherry tomatoes in newly constructed greenhouses. “We started using grow lighting in 2015,” says Andrzej. “We now have 12 ha of tomato cultivation with artificial lighting, all installed in conjunction with Hortilux. Although production is slightly slower during the winter, our total production is higher. The tomatoes also taste better. And that’s what the consumer notices.”

Smooth installation

Andrzej Kornafel chose Hortilux fixtures and lamps because of their high light level. “When you’re making an investment of this size, you naturally choose the highest level. Hortilux 1000 Watt HSE NXT II fixtures give at least 190 mmol of light. The tomato plants make good use of the radiant heat from the lamps during the cold and dark time of year. Our experience is that the plants develop better and the fruiting vegetables ripen better thanks to the lighting. Tomato plants with 38 trusses are not unusual. And there’s still room for growth here.” Andrzej is more than satisfied with the advice offered by Hortilux and the support they provided throughout the installation process. “Hortilux installed the first 4 ha of lighting in 2015, and the next 8 ha of grow lamps were delivered in the autumn of 2016. The deadlines were tight both times because the plants were ready for planting. But installation still went very smoothly because the Hortilux staff always kept their promises.”

Plants in balance

“A well-designed lighting plan is the basis for an increase in production,” explains Andrzej. “You have to give the plants all the light they need. This is particularly true of our raspberry tomatoes because they are sensitive to light. Balance is important.”

This also applies to the tomato grower’s management practices. Andrzej believes that the increase in production makes up for the higher electricity costs. He plans to use even more grow light technology for his tomato plants in the future. “Polskie Pomidory means high-quality tomatoes from the best varieties, and we will continue to develop in this area. Grow lamps are an essential part of this.”