Processing tomato production looks to be down
The USDA’s contracted production for California processing tomatoes is forecast at 11.5 million tons, averaging 49.8 tons per acre, according to a press release from the Sacramento office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. That production would be 4.1% below last year’s contracted production, and 5% below the May forecast.
A variety of natural causes are blamed for the production decrease. Rainy weather and cooler temperatures delayed planting and slowed crop growth in early spring, according to the press release. Reports of hail damage in Fresno County during May lowered expected yields. There were also concerns that high temperatures in July and August, as well as disease pressure, has adversely impacted the crop.
The projected harvested acreage of tomatoes grown under contract is 231,000 acres, an increase of 0.4% compared to 2018, the USDA said.
Harvest began the first week of July, in line with the past two years, according to the USDA’s release. However, tonnage harvested through August is substantially less than it has been in previous years. The Processing Tomato Advisory Board has published shipments through Aug. 24, 2019, which were running 21.1% below those of 2018. Harvest is behind about a week.