Tomatoes are available all year round, but in the ‘land of tomatoes’ a seasonal change is happening every year in October and early March. The traditional tomato cultivation ends in the Netherlands in October and continues in countries such as Spain, Morocco, Tunisia and Italy from then, and of course the other way around in March. How does this seasonal change work and how does this affect availability and quality?

Traditional tomato cultivation in the Netherlands

Tomato cultivation itself depends on many different factors, including temperature and light. In the period from March to October the Dutch climate is very well suited for growing tomatoes in the traditional way.

What is the traditional way of growing?

In the Netherlands, cultivation takes place in greenhouses of glass, this is also called protected cultivation. However it is called traditional, the Dutch cultivation technique is developing very quickly and ensures increasingly better quality, also outside the "traditional Dutch tomato season".

Dutch 'winter' cultivation techniques

Although there is an originally traditional season in the Netherlands, vine tomatoes are grown almost all year round nowadays due to artificial lighting in greenhouses. The fact is that the techniques for artificial lighting in the Netherlands are well developed so the exclusive varieties such as mini vine tomatoes, Honing tomatoes and snack tomatoes are also grown in the Netherlands during the winter months. The quality of these tomatoes is of a high level, because the cultivation can be controlled very specifically by means of the light, climate and nutrition. This method of cultivation is expensive and therefore has an effect on the cost price. Therefore the gravity of the remaining cultivation of the many tomato varieties is situated in countries such as Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Morocco.

What is the difference in terms of cultivation?

Due to the warm climate in Mediterranean countries tomatoes are mainly grown outdoors, in greenhouses made of net (with a kind of mesh). Weather conditions such as enormous heat, rain or cold do have a great influence on the cultivation process and therefore also on the availability and quality of the tomatoes. It may therefore happen that your desired tomatoes are not always available in the period from November to March. Because of the distance there is also a delay of two days due to transport. Naturally, the growers and BE Fresh do their utmost to provide you with the highest quality tomatoes during this period. Our Quality Control department execute extra checks and extra accurate to check on the quality of tomatoes.

Is there a difference in taste or quality?

You cannot argue about taste. You can only determine the taste of a tomato by tasting the tomatoes themselves. The fact is that the Netherlands is very progressive in terms of taste. Many well-known seed companies are located in the Netherlands and are continuously developing on flavour. The taste of different Dutch tomato varieties is almost always the same despite the weather conditions. This is only achievable because of the cultivation in greenhouses, as almost all factors of the cultivation process can be regulated. Think of: food, temperature, light, natural pollination by bumblebees, etc.

During the winter period from November to March, extra strict checks are carried out on the quality of the Spanish tomatoes. As a customer, you will notice little or nothing of this crop rotation, but it requires a lot of work before you receive your desired, qualitative and tasty tomatoes.

Do you have questions about the season change? Don’t hesitate to contact us!