New Study Highlights Increased Production Costs for Processing Tomatoes

Brian GermanFruits & Vegetables, Industry, Tomatoes

Processing Tomato

A new study from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and UC Cooperative Extension highlights production cost increases for processing tomatoes. The Sample Costs to Produce Processing Tomatoes report looks at production in the Sacramento Valley and Northern Delta. Costs and figures are based on a hypothetical farming operation consisting of 3,500 leased acres. A total of 1,000 acres are used for transplanted tomato production with sub-surface drip irrigation. The remaining acreage is planted to other rotational crops such as alfalfa hay and field corn.

The report reflects several cost increases in multiple areas of production. Water costs incorporated as part of the study increased 84 percent in the last six years to $120 per acre-foot. Overall pre-plant costs have risen to $353 per acre, up from $187 in 2017, the last time a similar cost study was published. Cultural costs have also risen more than 52 percent, to $2,638 per acre. Harvest costs have doubled from the 2017 report, now costing $1,946 per acre.

Yields in the area have averaged between 35 and 65 tons per acre over the past five years. A yield of 46 tons per acre is used in the study, along with a price of $138 per ton. While costs have come up substantially from 2017, so too have the net returns above total costs. Growers in the Sacramento Valley could potentially earn a return of $529 per acre, a stark contrast to the negative net returns seen in the 2017 study.

The costs of materials and practices used as part of the study will not apply to every farming operation. Figures are determined based on input from farm advisors and other industry members. Other cost and return studies for a variety of different crops are available online for free from the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West