At the moment, California's production of mature green tomatoes is centered in the Coachella Valley, in the very southern part of the state. "The season saw a bit of a late start," says Todd Giardina with family-owned DiMare Company. "May 18 was our first picking day." Given that the season is only a four to five-week deal, the last pack day is expected to be mid-next week. "Yields have been good this season."
From the Coachella Valley, the season usually transitions straight into California's Central Valley. "However, the rains California endured in winter and spring have delayed planting." As a result, the start date of the Central Valley harvest is expected around July 10. Once up to speed, the Central Valley will continue production until early November before it switches back to Florida. "Since everybody will be late, there will be a little gap. It is unfortunate for us and our customers as they will be forced to switch to other growing areas," Giardina said. The Carolinas, Tennessee, Arkansas, as well as Mexico are all growing tomatoes this time of year.
Green tomatoes turn red with the help of ethylene and are sold in bulk in stores.
Apart from the gap, it has been a struggle to grow mature green tomatoes in California. "If you're in here for five or six months out of the year, it gets tougher and tougher to be competitive as the costs are so high," said Giardina. "We have to compete with tomatoes from Mexico, where labor is much cheaper." This ties into pricing, which is all over the board. "Right after Memorial Day, Mexico came out with pricing at the very minimum, which makes it hard to continue growing in a state like California. It's a battle every year," Giardina finished.