California Tomato Growers Expect Record Year Despite Drought

Oct 21, 2014
California Tomato Growers Association

The drought has California farmers leaving thousands of acres fallow this year. But growers still chose to plant processing tomatoes. And as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they’re expected to have a record year.

About 95 percent of the nation’s processed tomatoes come from California. Last year, about 12 million tons were produced. Some farmers this year were skeptical they could grow the 14 million tons contracted for by the state’s processors.

But Mike Montna with the California Tomato Growers Association says they hit that mark.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and figs have a long history together. Nearly 100 years ago,  real estate developer J.C. Forkner purchased thousands of acres of hardpan soil miles north of the city of Fresno. 

Creative Commons / Flickr user wollombi /

We all know Central California produces most of the state’s petroleum, but could another oil boom be on the horizon? Well, that’s what journalist Nathanael Johnson from the online environmental news website Grist argues in a new article that came out last week – but he’s not talking about fracking or the Monterey Shale – he’s talking about olive oil. 

Back in 2010, the city of Irwindale was so excited to lure the factory that makes Sriracha hot sauce to their area, they helped finance the $40 million project.

But earlier this month that same city council designated this once desired business as a public nuisance, over complaints from residents about spicy odors and burning eyes.

Sriracha sauce creator David Tran is now being peppered with offers to relocate his plant to other states and counties, including the San Joaquin Valley. The move could create hundreds of jobs and bolster the local economy.

Ten Speed Press

For years California winemakers have earned their reputation by producing big, bold wines, often known as "fruit bombs." They've also effectively used science and technological advances to make the state a global behemoth in the worldwide industry.

But there’s also something else going on in California -  a new generation of winemakers who are looking to old world traditions for their inspiration, and in the process are creating something truly unique.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

  This year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. This once-in-a-lifetime holiday, that’s being called Thanksgivukkah, won’t occur again for another 70,000 some years, according to experts.

Andy Karsh, owner of Karsh’s Catering and Zen Wok Fusion in Fresno’s Tower District, developed a special menu that combines the rich culinary traditions of the two holidays. He’ll teach us how to cook these dishes during Valley Edition on Nov. 26.

 Tursket (Turkey and Brisket)

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the the city's economy is on the road to recovery in 2013, thanks in part to growth in the local food processing sector.  

"I'm telling you that things are getting good around here when it comes to industrial expansion and expanding our food business," Swearengin told the crowd.

Earlier this year, the Fresno Food Expo brought together valley food businesses with regional and national buyers, as well as hundreds of ordinary local residents. But Del Rey farmer and guest commentator Nikiko Masumoto says all the buzz about food products, left her dreaming of something more meaningful, a focus on local food culture.


Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Pao Saephan crouches down in his sun-drenched field. He cups a red jewel in his hand.

In a few more days, his strawberries will be fully ripe. He’ll pick them once they are garnet-colored from stem to tip.

“We want all the strawberries, to be full ripe, full flavor, with 100 percent sugar in them,” says Saephan.

In the past, he would sell the fresh berries at his roadside stand - called Sam’s Strawberry Patch. It’s located at the intersection of Manning Avenue and I Street in Reedley.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

The food truck, once known for dreaded boring prepackaged sandwiches or carne asada tacos, has taken a turn for the better. The trucks have gone gourmet.

They no longer do boring. In fact, many food trucks across the nation have created infusions of local produce with a unique and somewhat international flare.

The evolution of the roach coach hit Fresno in 2012 in the form of what locals call CartHop. The traveling band of six local gourmet food vendors meet in three locations for lunch across Fresno and plan to open the door even wider to foodies in 2013.