Processing tomato growers are experiencing a rebound of sorts this year after the last couple of crops were intentionally smaller to pare down stockpiles that were sitting in warehouses.
This year's contracted production is forecast at 11.8 million tons, or 13.4 percent more than the 2017 crop, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento. Production is expected to average 50.4 tons per acre.
The projected number of acres grown under contract is 234,000, an increase of 5.9 percent from last year, according to the agency.
This week's updated forecast comes as the harvest has been underway since early July after warm temperatures caused the crop to develop sooner than anticipated, NASS reports. The harvest started slowly but picked up by the third week, and yields were reported to be good and above contracted levels.
With a larger crop, sugars are expected to be lower compared to last season, NASS observes. Water availability hasn't been a concern this year and pest and disease pressure has been minimal.
Shipping reports published by the Processing Tomato Advisory Board showed that as of Aug. 25 shipments were running 8.5 percent ahead of last year's pace.
Last year marked the industry's lowest contracted production since 2006 as it tried to work through a glut of tomatoes brought on by record production in 2014 and 2015.
The processing tomato estimate is funded by the California League of Food Processors in cooperation with the state Department of Food and Agriculture.