The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service has forecasted contracted production for California processing tomatoes at 12.9 million tons for 2023, averaging 50.8 tons per acre. The current production forecast is 23% above last year’s contracted production of 10.5 million tons, and 2% above the May forecast. The projected harvested acreage of tomatoes grown under contract is 254,000 acres, up 13% from 2022.
Unseasonably wet weather through winter and spring delayed planting by weeks, but with record-high prices and ample water, contracted acreage increased significantly. Harvest began with a slow start in mid-July, a couple weeks behind average, and is expected to continue well through October if the weather stays dry. Now entering peak harvest, canneries are busy managing the logistics of consistently delivering ripe tomatoes to the plant.
The Processing Tomato Advisory Board published shipments through August 26, 2023, showing a 16% decrease compared to the end of August 2022. However, due to the late crop, shipments are expected to catch up and exceed the past 5 years.
This processing tomato estimate is funded by the California League of Food Producers.