California tomato growers continue to break records during fourth year of drought conditions.
The Processing Tomato Advisory Board (PTAB) reported 14,361,187 short tons of processing tomatoes delivered as of October 31, 2015. This number breaks the previous record high of 14,009,982 short tons.
Fresno County remains the leading producer with approximately 32% of the total tomatoes grown, with Yolo County at 13% and Kings County at 9.3%.
Solids were very good this year, with year-to-date readings as of October 10th averaging 5.6, 0.09 higher than the 2014 season. The variety Heinz 8504 commands the top spot on the variety leader board followed by Nunhems 6366 and Seminis DRI 319.
Looking to the 2016 season, growers remain hopeful that the El Niño predicted for California will bring the growing areas some much needed rain. Climate models predict that California should receive wetter than average conditions in the early months of 2016.
While precipitation may increase, El Niño may not provide the necessary snow pack for long-term drought relief due to its tendency to increase temperatures as well as moisture.
While there may be some relief to some taxed ground water aquifers, California tomato growers may still be faced with some challenges. Wet weather may delay plantings in the spring.
Due to the fact that California’s tonnage is now produced mainly from transplants, having to hold plants in greenhouses because of wet fields can lead to delayed sowing. Working wet land can also cause yields to decrease.
Weather forecasts are providing some much-needed optimism for drought relief; however, it will be up to the resilient California tomato growers to meet the challenge that a wet season may bring.
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