California walnut, tomato production forecasts lower

Walnut Forecast

The 2006 California walnut production is forecast at 350,000 tons, down 1 percent from 2005's record production of 355,000 tons, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Services (NASS). The forecast is based on the 2006 Walnut Objective Measurement (O.M.) Survey, which was officially conducted Aug.1-24, 2006. There were a few samples completed before Aug.1 for training and scheduling purposes.

The O.M. Survey utilized a total of 682 blocks with two sample trees per block. Survey data indicated an average nut set of 1,458 per tree, down 7 percent from 2005's average of 1,575, NASS reported. The Hartley nut set was up 9 percent; Chandler was down 22 percent; Serr, 18 percent lower; and Franquette was 58 percent higher from 2005. Percent of sound kernels in-shell was 98 percent statewide. In-shell weight per nut was 22.7 grams, while the average in-shell suture measurement was 31.4 millimeters. The average length in-shell was 39.5 millimeters.

Estimated nut sets, sizing measurements, average number of trees per acre and estimated bearing acreage were used in the statistical models.

Tomato Forecast

As of Aug. 15, 2006, California’s contracted processing tomato production is forecast at 10 million tons, down 12 percent from the May forecast, but 6 percent above the 2005 season, NASS reported. Processors expected this production to come from 279,000 acres producing an average 35.84 tons per acre.

It has been another troublesome year for processing tomato growers. Heavy and seasonally-late precipitation disrupted planting schedules. With wet weather conditions, many growing areas experienced planting delays, which will potentially affect their harvest schedules and perhaps their level of production. Growers were hindered from entering their fields due to muddy conditions and flooded fields. Yields could be affected as a result of heavy equipment compacting the wet soil. California's heat wave in mid-to-late July, during which temperatures ranged from 112-115 degrees, increased disease pressure for early-season processing tomatoes and bacterial spot has affected a lot of the acreage.

As of Aug. 20, the total statewide inspected tonnage of tomatoes delivered - 3,938,841 tons - was 14 percent lower compared to the same time one year ago - 4,601,457 tons, NASS said.

This report is based on the results of a survey conducted in August. The survey asked processors for the amount of tomatoes they expect to process and the total harvested acreage required to achieve that amount.

The California League of Food Processors, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, funded this forecast. The USDA forecast for U.S. processing tomato production will be issued on Sept. 7.

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