SACRAMENTO (KCBS)— This year’s California tomato harvest is a record breaker even in the face of a withering drought. In fact, California farmers produced a record tomato crop.
The harvest came in at an estimated 14 million tons of processing tomatoes. Those are the type used to make sauce, salsa and other products, and represent about 96 percent of all the tomatoes grown in California.
The Sacramento Bee reports the bountiful crop didn’t happen by accident.
Fearful of possible shortages, tomato processors agreed to pay a record price to growers: $83 a ton, up from $70 a year ago.
That prompted many farmers throughout the state, home to more than 95 percent of the nation’s tomatoes, to dedicate a greater percentage of their land and water to tomatoes.
An additional 30,000 acres of tomatoes were planted compared to a year ago.
Another factor in tomatoes’ favor is that they’re not a particularly thirsty crop. Tomatoes can be grown with about half as much water as other high-value crops such as pistachios or almonds. In addition, many tomato farmers have invested heavily in efficient drip-irrigation systems in recent years.