The 2009 contracted production for California processing tomatoes is shaping up to be a record year with a forecast of 13.5 million tons and an average yield of 43.97 tons per acre.

The forecasted contracted production for 2009 is 13 percent above the previous record in 1999. Planted and harvested acres are forecast at 308,000 and 307,000, respectively.

Processing tomato acres were moved to where there was adequate water. In areas receiving low water allotments, tomato acres were cut considerably. Processing tomato acreage is up significantly in Kern and San Joaquin counties.

The season got off to a good start when producers planted the crop on time due to dry spring weather. Also, prices for fuel, fertilizer, and other inputs have been lower for the 2009 growing season than the higher levels experienced last year.

Harvest started a week later than expected. Warm weather in July helped the crop to progress and ripen. The extended periods of temperatures over 100 degrees caused damage to some fields. However, yields have remained above expectations.