As of May 15, California tomato processors report planned contracts for 12.3 million tons of processing tomatoes for 2010, according to the Sacramento, Calif., Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

This production is 6 percent lower than the contracted production of last year.

The May contracted acreage of 269,000 is 11,000 less than the January intention’s forecast.

Fresno County is the top contracted planted acreage county this year with 99,000 acres. Kings, Yolo, San Joaquin, and Merced counties are other top acreage counties.

The counties make up 77 percent of the 2010 total contracted planted acreage for California, NASS reports.

Wet weather accompanied by cool temperatures has been a factor this spring for processing tomato growers. In January, planting schedules were finalized to prevent overloading processors at harvest.

Ground preparation continued in the months following as conditions allowed. Fields received pre-plant herbicides and beds were formed for transplanting. Tomatoes were transplanted March through May.

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 9.