According to a USDA survey in May, processing tomato growers were expecting to contract 11.4 million short tons of processing tomatoes, for a 12 percent increase over last year. This year’s difficult planting season, however, has brought uncertainty to an otherwise hopeful market.
Canneries are building up inventory, but the compressed harvest could make for complications as a flood of canning tomatoes bump up against cannery capacity. The delay could force processors to push harvest into early fall when crops are more at risk of fall rains.
Gene Miyao, UCCE farm advisor for tomatoes in Northern California, said tomatoes in his area are running up to five weeks late, pushing the peak of harvest likely into the middle of August. In the San Joaquin Valley, processing tomatoes were running from five days to two weeks late.
The mild weather has resulted in good fruit set although as temperatures climbed the last week of July, he warned growers might expect some blossom drop.
“This is going to be a very different year,” Miyao said. “We hope it will be a long season, but it certainly will be a more compressed harvest delivery time period.”