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Tomato production falls short of expectations

Concern over low supply was prevalent amid a lack of water availability and high summer temperatures.

Farm Press Staff

September 6, 2022

2 Min Read
California tomato canneries are said to be combing the Central Valley for growers with stable water supplies as the contract price for canning tomatoes was set at a record $105 per ton.Todd Fitchette

California's processing tomato production this summer fell 10% short of expectations, weighing in at 10.5 million tons or 46.9 tons per acre, according to a USDA report.

Canners in May reported contracts for 11.7 million tons grown on 234,000 acres, down from the January forecast of 12.2 million tons, according to the California Farm Bureau.

The new projected harvested acreage of tomatoes grown under contract is 224,000 acres, which is 1% lower than in 2021, when 10.8 million tons were produced, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento.

Expected production continued to decrease as the season progressed, NASS reports. Acres that were planted early were hit by frost damage that affected yields and crop quality.

Concern over low supply was prevalent as the lack of water availability and high summer temperatures have made it difficult for growers to meet market demand.

Related: Drought curbs expected processing tomato crop

Harvest began during the second week of July. At this point, the flow of tomatoes has been consistently below last year. The Processing Tomato Advisory Board published shipments through August 27, 2022, showing a 5% decrease compared to the end of August in 2021.

As canneries combed the Central Valley for growers with reliable water, the price of a record $105 per ton was announced in February -- perhaps the earliest greed-upon price for California canning tomatoes in the last two decades. 

Mike Montna, president and chief executive of the California Tomato Growers Association, told Farm Press earlier this year that the negotiated price between farmers and the canneries reflected an understanding that tomato supplies and water would be short, while demand remains strong.

NASS' processing tomato estimates are funded by the California League of Food Producers.

Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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