Record wet winter and planting delays will affect Californian tomatoes

For California's tomato crop, the delay in planting caused by this winter's record precipitation could have a nationwide ripple effect as the state grows more than 90% of all tomatoes for processed canned goods, such as pasta and pizza sauces.

Rian Gosser, a tomato farmer in the North Bay, finds the grounds of his Petaluma farm are still too wet to plant his tomato crop: "The soil is really saturated, heavy instruments or tools cannot get onto the soil yet. So we might actually have to do a kind of improvisation with new, smaller and smaller implements."

By this time, Gosser said he would have planted at least some of his 20,000 tomato plants. For now, they stay in his greenhouse.

"Boxes have all gone up 20% or more in the last couple of years, and employee costs have all gone up, so I'm hoping I don't want to raise my prices from last year at this point because I'm very comfortable with our price line. But at the same time, I have to still wait to see how much these new supplies are going to cost," said Gosser.

But despite the wet winter, he's still expecting a bountiful year of delicious tomatoes.


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