As of May 24, California tomato processors plan to issue contracts for 12.9 million tons of the fruit in 2012, according to NASS’ California Processing Tomato Report.

This is an 8.4 percent increase over last year’s final contracted production.

The May 2012 contracted acreage of 260,000 is 6,000 acres below the January intentions forecast, but 6,000 acres above last year’s level of 254,000 acres.

Fresno County remains the top California county in contracted planted acreage for 2012 with 97,000 acres.

Yolo, San Joaquin, Kern, and Kings County make up the remaining top five counties for contracted planted acreage, respectively. These counties make up 76 percent of the 2012 total contracted planted acreage for California.

NASS says cool temperatures and late rains slowed development, subsequently causing planting delays. Tomato beds were formed and received pre-plant herbicides in February. 

Processing tomato transplants were planted in the early spring as weather and soil conditions allowed. 

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 Sept. 6.