Tomato Nutrient Requirements

Dynamics of nutritional requirements of tomatoes (STILL WORKING ON THIS - exciting new information is coming through and I am applying some of the research results.  {Dec. 2021))

Nitrogen and potassium uptake is initially slow but rapidly increases during the flowering stages.

Potassium is peaking during fruit development and nitrogen uptake occurs mainly after the formation of the first fruit. (Figs. 5 and 6).

Phosphorus (P) and secondary nutrients, Ca and Mg, are required at a relatively constant rate throughout the life cycle of the tomato plant.

(Source: Huett, 1985)

Figure 5: The uptake dynamics of the macro-and the secondary nutrients by a tomato plant

Uptake rate 




Figure 6: Daily uptake rates of plant nutrients by processing tomatoes yielding 127 T/ha 

(Source: B. Bar-Yosef . Fertilization under drip irrigation)

Uptake rate 


Days after planting


As shown in figures 5 and 6, the greatest absorption of nutrients occurs in the first 8 to 14 weeks of growth, and another peak occurs after the first fruit removal. Therefore, the plant requires high nitrogen application early in the growing season with supplemental applications after the fruit initiation stage. Improved N use efficiency and greater yields are achieved when N is applied under polyethene mulches via a drip irrigation system. At least 50 % of the total N should be applied as nitrate-nitrogen (NO3- ).


The most prevalent nutrient in the developed tomato plant and fruit is potassium, nitrogen (N) and calcium (Ca).


Figure 1: Element composition of a tomato plant

(Atherton and Rudich, 1986)

Figure 2: Element composition of a tomato fruit

(Atherton and Rudich, 1986)