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Rain impacts California tomato harvest

22/09/2022 - François-Xavier Branthôme - 2022 Season
The forecast of the week revised downwards, the final result could potentially be affected by the recent rainfalls

The rain has hit in most areas of California and, as a result, PTAB projections have changed. Following is the most current and up to date information for week ending 24 September.

According to the revised figures released on September 21 by PTAB regarding the 2022 California processing tomato harvest, week twelve (ending September 24th) is now estimated to be 543,874 mT only (599,519 sT) which would bring the year-to-date total to an estimated 7,775,939 mT (8,571,506 sT).

If the weekly projections come true, the projected quantities on September 24 would represent less than 82% (instead of 85% as originally envisaged) of the revised California processors' target (9.53 million mT, or 10.5 million sT). The final result of the 2022 harvest season will likely reflect the decline caused by this rainy episode.

According to an interview by KOVR/CNN with a farmer who grows tomato in the region of Stockton, a lot of farmers have turned this year to almonds and walnuts, leaving less water for tomatoes, considering that “having enough water for that crop only, permanent crop like walnuts [is] the crop you’re going to take care of.”
Some of them are in the middle of their tomato harvest and they now face a different water issue: too much rain at the wrong harvest time. “It creates mold. Mold is what the cannery doesn’t want,” the tomato grower whose family has been farming in California for more than 150 years said. 
With storm clouds threatening the harvest, it’s a race against time. If the tomatoes turn, that means trouble for the farmer. “They start sending the trucks back loaded. They come back, and you have to dump them. And that’s it. Normally you don’t harvest anymore tomatoes, because the whole field gets mold,” the grower said.
Wet weather also slows the harvesting process. “If the ground gets wet, you can’t get in and you don’t get as much done because of the mud in the machine”.

According to local press, the rotten turn of events could impact millions of tons of tomatoes, which are used to make pasta sauces. Less sauce on the shelves means more money consumers might have to spend. “They tell me the warehouses are empty, so that means when you go to the store and you want to buy tomato sauce for spaghetti and there are only a few cans on there, you say, ‘I better buy a couple extra ones,’” the grower said. 
There is crop insurance, but grower says don’t bank on it, adding that “this year, it will be hard to catch up given the ever-rising price of doing business due to inflation.

Sources: PTAB, KOVR via CNN Newsource
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