As of May 16, California’s tomato processors reported they have or will have contracts for 12.2 million tons of processing tomatoes for 2011, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

This production is nearly equal to the final contracted production total from last year.

The May contracted acreage of 258,000 is 10,000 less than the January intentions forecast and 11,000 below last year’s level.

Fresno County remains at the top of all California counties in contracted planted acreage for 2011 with 92,000 acres. Yolo, Kings, San Joaquin, and Merced County make up the remaining top five counties, respectively. These counties have 77 percent of the 2011 total contracted planted acreage for California.

Cool temperatures slowed tomato development while rain caused planting delays, NASS reports.

Despite the weather challenges, plants remain in good condition. Tomato beds were formed and received pre-plant herbicides in January.

Processing tomato transplants were planted in the early spring as allowed by weather and soil conditions.  The above average rainfall received during the winter and spring improved the amount of water available for irrigation for the current season.

Fuel, fertilizer, chemical, and other input costs for the processing tomato crop are higher than last year.

This early processing tomato estimate is funded by the California League of Food Processors, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. 

The USDA estimate for all states will be issued July 8.