Tomato supplies adequate despite water woes

05/23/2014 09:54:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Courtesy Red Rooster SalesLabor contractor Accedro Reyes (left) and production manager George Seasholtz, take a look at some of the first mature-green tomatoes at Red Rooster Sales, Firebaugh, Calif. The company expects to start harvesting in early June, says sales manager Tom Frudden.Water has been in short supply throughout the California and Baja California growing areas this season; nonetheless, most growers say tomato supplies should be ample and quality should be good to excellent.

The DiMare Co., Newman, Calif., started picking mature-green tomatoes in Indio in California’s Coachella Valley in early May, said Jeff Dolan, field operations manager.

That’s a little earlier than usual, he said, because the region had very favorable growing conditions this year.

As of mid-May, size and color were looking good, he said, and he expected good quality to continue when the deal transitions to Northern California.

“We should have a nice, orderly flow between the desert and Newman sometime in early June,” he said.

Expo Fresh LLC, San Diego, plans to kick off its tomato deal in Baja California with romas starting the first of June, said Bob Schachtel, sales manager.

Vine-ripes should start harvesting in August or September.

“Everything’s been fine so far weather-wise,” he said in mid-May.

Some wind and hot weather has materialized, but that shouldn’t affect the company’s tomatoes, which are all grown in shade houses as of this year, he said.

Nogales, Ariz.-based Bernardi & Associates started receiving tomatoes from Baja California in mid-April and should continue until the first of next year, said president Joe Bernardi.

“Conditions have been real good for growing,” he said.

The company sells roma, grape, cherry and vine-ripe tomatoes grown in Baja California.

Prices were lower than a year ago, Bernardi said in early May, but he added that they were abnormally high last year.

“Romas are a struggle to move right now,” he said. “I think once we get into June, things will start to level out a little bit.”

Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, Calif., was growing tomatoes in Florida in May and expects to start harvesting in California in early July, said Tom Deardorff, president.

Acreage in Oxnard will be similar to last year, and Deardorff said there should be no dramatic changes. However, he said the area was facing water constraints.

If there’s any good news associated with California’s drought, it’s that there was no rain damage to the tomato crop, said Tom Frudden, sales manager for Red Rooster Sales in Firebaugh.

Red Rooster will start picking the first of June and fruit set looked good in mid-May.

“There wasn’t much of a winter,” Frudden said. “We’ve had above-average temperatures for spring.”

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