- Sophie Colvine
This report marks the 50th year of continuous crop research sponsored by the contributing members of the California Tomato Research Institute (CTRI).
The primary function of the CTRI is to identify production challenges and opportunities and to fund projects which research and development can address. Funding is through tonnage assessments (USD 0.07/paid ton) from its voluntary grower members. Decisions are governed by its Board, made up of growers, with the aim of building and maintaining an effective, robust and dynamic research agenda CTRI management promotes durable coalitions between growers, allied industry and researchers.
Since 1968, when the CTRI was founded, over 600 research projects have been supported. These projects have primarily focused on improving field production, particularly in the areas of: pest management (250+ projects); variety development, pre-breeding and variety evaluation (150+ projects); agronomics (100+ projects); market development and process quality (75+ projects); and automation (25+ projects). The figure below charts the long running research categories over time.
As evidenced by a membership which represents over two thirds of the paid tons in 2018 and 50 years of historical expenditures, the CTRI has invested significantly (over 11 million USD) into the future of the processing tomato industry in California. These investments have come not only in the form of short term projects with results which can be immediately implemented in commercial fields (side-by-side crop protection product testing as an example) but also in the form of long term projection of industry need (continued annual TGRC commitment). Past experience highlights the reality that there is significance in not only what the CTRI chooses to fund from year to year but also in how we, alongside the industry, leverage those findings in two key ways:
1. To make the in-field changes which will continue to drive the industry forward incrementally, and
2. To maintain and build the network of growers, processors, allied industry and researchers globally to cultivate and extend the next idea which will give us more than incremental change.
Additional resources for growers and allied industry can be found on the pages of www.tomatonet.org and by joining the industry email alert system also found on the home page of www.tomatonet.org. Alternatively, you can direct any and all questions related to this report or the work of the Institute to Zach Bagley.