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Process tomato forecast drops sharply

California's contracted processing tomato production is forecast at 10 million tons, down 4 percent from the May forecast and 12 percent lower than the 2004 season. This is the Aug. 1 forecast.

Processors expected this production to come from 260,000 acres producing an average 38.46 tons per acre.

It has been a troublesome year for processing tomato growers. This year's unusually wet spring compacted the soil and made for poor planting conditions. The mixture of moisture and heat increased disease pressure for early-season processing tomatoes and bacterial spot has affected much of the processing tomato acreage.

Crop acreage is down, due in part to stagnant tomato prices and the availability of alternative crops to grow in California.

Compounding the situation is the energy crisis. Fuel prices have increased dramatically and for a short period at the height of the harvest, diesel suppliers in Fresno were out of fuel.

As of Aug. 20, the total statewide inspected tonnage of tomatoes delivered (4,601,457 tons) was 26 percent lower compared to the same time one year ago (6,203,599 tons).

This report is based on the results of a survey conducted in August.

This particular survey asked processors for the amount of tomatoes they expect to process and the total harvested acreage required to achieve that amount.

This forecast was funded by the California League of Food Processors, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

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