California’s 2022 Tomato Crop Falls Far Below Target: Here’s Why

by Tia Bailey
(Photo via Getty Images/Stock Photo)

California’s farms are struggling. The state’s 2022 tomato crop has fallen far below its target, and it’s due to the water crisis.

The state has been dealing with a drought, and it is affecting the crops. Along with the drought, rising interest rates and inflation have contributed to the lack of tomatoes.

 Mike Montna, president and CEO of the California Tomato Growers Association, spoke to CNN about the situation.

“Ninety-five percent of the processed tomato products consumed in the United States come right here from California’s Central Valley,” Montna said. “Mainly the tomatoes from the growers that I represent … go to your ketchups, pizza sauces, your retail sauces that you see at the supermarket.”

Back in January, the target for this year was 12.2 million tons of tomatoes. In May, they revised the number, changing it to 11.7 million tons, and now, Montna shares that it won’t even get to that number. He stated that the real number will be about 14% less than the predicted numbers.

“We’re going to end up ultimately somewhere around 10.5, 10.4 million tons,” Montna said. He stated that the real number will be about 14% less than the predicted numbers.

“We’re not getting the yields that we expected or that we got historically seven or eight years ago. We’re in a flat to declining yield situation and a lot of it’s due to weather and how intensive it is to grow a tomato.”

CNN reports that this is the fourth year in a row where the numbers ended up being lower than predicted.

Farmer Aaron Barcellos is one of the farmers affected by this.

“It’s just like owning a second home and trying to rent it out,” Barcellos said. “If you don’t have a tenant in there, you still have all your fixed costs … but you have no income coming from it.”

Florida Citrus Farmers Expect Smallest Crop in 80 Years

Florida farmers are having the same issue, but with citrus. The farmers in the Sunshine State have Hurricane Ian to blame for the all-time low numbers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the number of boxes this year compared to last will be down 32% — from 41 million boxes of oranges to 28 million boxes of oranges. Every box contains 90 pounds of oranges.

Hurricane Ian rampaged through the state very recently, leaving tons of damage in the process. For the orange farmers, the wind blew tons of oranges to the ground. Once they hit the ground, they can no longer be sold.

“It is going to take a while to know the full impact,” Ray Royce, director at Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, said to Yahoo! News. “But in certain areas we’re seeing 50% of the fruit on the ground already.”