Tomato harvest in full swing for Central Valley growers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For roughly 100 days out of the year, you can find Central Valley tomato growers harvesting fresh off the vine.

"The vine coverage has allowed us to set the bloom, set the fruit, and actually

have a good crop," said Lance Dami, field operations.

Head of field operations lance Dami said, despite the number of challenges growers face, this year's season is looking good for Los Gatos Tomato Products. Drought conditions and hot weather prompted an early harvest-- mid-June. Insect pressure also plagues growers throughout the state.

"You can see it (the tomato) has circles where the thrip injected it," said Dami.

On top of drought and insects, this year, tomato growers also face a drop in prices.

"There's still money in it for growers, but all they need is a five-ton drop and in that case, they would be just breaking even, or losing a bit of money," said Dami.

Los Gatos Tomato Products farms roughly 18,000 acres of tomatoes from Kern County to Los Banos. Most of that acreage is within 30 miles of the company plant in Huron. The processing facility sits on about 60 acres, There they process about 10,000 tons of tomatoes per day.

"Anywhere from ketchup sauces to BBQ sauces, anything that has a tomato in it we probably supply to," said Brandon Clement, general manager.

Los Gatos Tomato Products represent eight percent of the state's tomatoes employing roughly 180 workers during peak season and 45 year round. The company turns whole tomatoes into a paste.

"We take the whole tomato, extracting the water through an evaporation process, sterilizing and packing it in industrial size container," said Clement.

Customers produce around 14,000 bottles per bin.
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