State tomato production down 8 percent

California's tomato processors reported they have or will have contracts for 10.4 million tons of processing tomatoes for 2005. This production is 8 percent less than the contracted production of last year.

The production for 2005 is expected to come from 265,000 acres. The estimated acreage is 9 percent less than last year's contracted planted acres. The June acreage is unchanged from the January intentions forecast of 265,000 acres.

Fresno County retains the top spot over all the counties in contracted planted acreage for 2005 with 104,100 acres. San Joaquin County grabbed the No. 2 position with 35,500 contracted planted acres. Rounding out the top five counties for contracted planted acreage in 2005 were Yolo, Kings, and Colusa.

This year, unusual rains have caused a delay in planting tomatoes for processing statewide so growers were expected to be planting up to the third week in May. Tomatoes that were planted early have done well and will mature on schedule in July. Despite the rains, the fields that were planted look to be in good condition although there was concern about soil compaction due to the damp soil conditions at planting time.

Some regions report Roundup drift as a potential problem, but other than those concerns, the tomato crop was reported to be in good condition.

This early processing tomato estimate is funded by the California League of Food Processors, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The USDA estimate for all states will be issued on July 8.

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