The 2010 processing tomato harvest is estimated to be close to 12.3 million tons, the second largest in California history.

Record yields (45.7 tons per acre), increased use of drip irrigation (now on more than half of total acreage), and generally good weather all contributed to the near record crop.

Demand in 2010 was strong with exports at 2.1 million tons and future export demand looks promising for California as worldwide production is expected to fall.

Decreased foreign supply also benefited the California tomato industry domestically as there was a 10 percent reduction in tomato imports. Acreage in 2010 was 268,000 acres, down 40,000 acres, but with increased per acre yields, the impact of acreage reduction 2qw lessened. Negotiated price for 2010 was $65/ton, an 18.75 percent decrease due to increased inventory and market conditions.

Given the tomato price, other crops such as cotton, com, and rice are attractive alternatives may end up in some rotations. This could reduce tomato acreage in 2011.

(This outlook report was presented at the recent 29th annual Agribusiness Management Conference in Fresno, Calif. sponsored by the Center for Agricultural Business, California Agricultural Technology Institute and the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University Fresno)