The latest California vegetable update from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., Field Office:

• Summer fresh market and melon acreage

The prospective area for harvest in the U.S. of 11 selected fresh market vegetables during the summer quarter is forecast to be 265,100 acres, virtually unchanged from last year.

Acreage increases in snap beans, carrots, sweet corn, cucumbers, and bell peppers more than offset acreage declines in broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, head lettuce, and tomatoes. The area forecast for melon harvest is 87,900 acres, virtually unchanged from last year.

Broccoli – California's area for summer harvest is forecast at 29,500 acres, down 2 percent from last year. Coastal growing conditions have been favorable. However, unusually low temperatures in late May slowed plant growth. By late June, the quality of the broccoli crop was reported to be good.

Cantaloupe – California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 25,000 acres, unchanged from last year. The summer melon crop is looking good. No major insect or disease problems have been reported. U.S. summer cantaloupe area for harvest is forecast at 28,900 acres, up 2 percent from 2008.

Carrots – California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 16,900 acres, up 4 percent from last year. The quality of the carrot crop is reported good. Nationally, the area for fresh market harvest is forecast at 19,100 acres, up 3 percent from last year.

Cauliflower – California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 7,900 acres, down 8 percent from 2008. Unusually low temperatures in late May slowed plant growth.

• Processing tomato acreage, tonnage

In California, growers are expected to contract 308,000 acres, 11percent more than last year. Contracted production is expected at 13.3 million tons, 14 percent higher than last year. Processing tomato fields were being planted in March. Transplanting of tomatoes began throughout the state in April through May. There were no indications of major quality issues or insect problems.

Nationally, contracted production is forecast at 13.9 million tons, up 14 percent from last year. The planted area contracted, at 327,700 acres, is up 11 percent from 2008 for comparable states.

Celery - California's summer area for harvest is forecast at 6,000 acres, down 3 percent from 2008. The summer celery crop is in good condition. The presence of seeders was minimal.

Sweet corn – California’s fresh area for harvest is forecast at 9,900 acres, unchanged from last year. The sweet corn crop is developing well. Quality is reported to be good in all growing regions. Nationally, the fresh market area for harvest is forecast at 101,000 acres, up 2 percent from last year.

Honeydew – California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 8,400 acres, 5 percent below last year. No major insect or disease problems have been reported. The U.S. fresh market area for summer harvest is forecast at 10,200 acres, down 5 percent from last year.

Harvest in Arizona began in mid-May. The growing season is expected to end in July.

Head lettuce – California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 34,000 acres, down 8 percent from last year. Planted acreage is down due to water shortages in many growing areas.

Tomatoes – California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 17,500 acres, 5 percent below 2008. Water shortages are a major concern. Some fields received seedling transplants. Some early planted tomatoes were destroyed by hail in Fresno County in early June. Harvest began in many counties by mid-June.

The U.S. fresh market area for summer harvest is forecast at 31,700 acres, down 2 percent from last year.

Watermelon – California’s fresh area for harvest is forecast at 9,000 acres, unchanged from 2008. The crop is off to a good start. Nationally, the summer area for harvest is forecast at 48,800 acres, down 1 percent from 2008.

Onions – In California, cool weather delayed harvest. However, sizing and quality of spring onions are reported to be good. Nationally, production of spring onions in 2009 is forecast at 9.65 million cwt., up 1 percent from last year. The crop is produced on 27,000 harvested acres. The average yield is 358 cwt. per acre, 20 cwt. above 2008.