Tuh-MAY-toh, Tuh-MAH-to

The most popular edible plant grown in the home garden is the tomato.

It’s a staple of many food products and is an ingredient in many meals. Because of this, National Garden Bureau (NGB) has designated 2011 as the “Year of the Tomato.”

Tomato breeding is hot right now, as per-capita consumption of fresh tomatoes has been increasing and troublesome weather has decreased the tomato supply significantly, causing tomato prices to increase – from $16 to $27 per case. This scenario duplicates 2010’s problematic tomato supply.

Tomatoes are also increasingly being marketed as a premier nutritional food, which promotes additional consumption.

WCF Courier of Cedar Valley, Iowa, recently reported a flourish of tomato-variety introductions, including fun names such as, "Fourth of July;" with a flavor described as a ‘delicious, sweet-acid balance,’ "Fried Green F1;” has a ‘tart, acid flavor’ and "Tye-Dye;" said to be ‘mildly sweet.’

Unknown to most Buckeyes, Ohio is a hub for tomatoes. Ohio is the second leading commercial producer of tomatoes in the United States, after California. Tomatoes are the official state fruit and tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio.

Tomato Industry Facts (Agricultural Issues Center, University of California)
  • In 2010, more than 28.9 million centum weight of commercial fresh-market tomatoes were produced in the U.S.
  • Imported tomatoes account for about one-third (nearly 1.5 million metric tons) of U.S. tomato consumption
  • U.S. fresh-tomato exports were less than 120,000 metric tons in 2010
  • The fresh tomato market is oligopolistic – few firms compete in the market, making it extremely shortage/surplus sensitive; In 1997, fewer than 1,000 farms were in production and fewer than 50 shippers controlled the movement of fresh tomatoes to wholesale, retail and food-service sectors
  • The U.S. is the largest market in North America for greenhouse tomatoes
  • More than 60 million tons produced every year
Tomato Plant Facts
  • Thousands of kinds
  • Produce 10 to 15 pounds of fruit
  • Classified by fruit shape, ripening times, color and size
  • Most popular fruit shapes are cherry, plum, standard and beefsteak
As the same tomato shortage plays out this year as in the past year, it will be interesting to note how Ohio tomato production changes. Farmers could deem the situation as an opportunity to start a new farming venture, or increase production if they’re already growing tomatoes.

Do you know any tomato farmers? Do you think tomato farming is lucrative?

Photo obtained from: withamymac.com

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