August 10, 2015

2015’s Record High Tomatoes Yield a Healthy K Appetite

Despite California’s dry growing conditions and late-June heat wave, 2015 is slated to be record-setting for tomato production. California alone is projected to produce 14,300,000 tons of processing tomatoes in 2015 – a 20 percent increase from two years ago.[1]  

2015: The Year of the Tomato

California’s weather has been integral to 2015’s ambitious tomato yields. This year has been unseasonably warm, making March and April perfect planting months – which got the plants off to a thriving start. After planting, temperatures in May cooled down, resulting in a lot of healthy, growing tomatoes. This year, so far, there’s no indication of widespread pest pressure (as in 2013, when processing tomatoes were beset with beet curly top, spoiling plants and requiring replant). However, despite the many favorable factors this season, July’s triple-digit temperatures did pose a threat on this year’s crop, causing sunburn and affecting flowering for some tomatoes.

But it’s not all about this year’s weather; over the past decade, tomato growers have steadily increased production by 45 percent. In 2004, California growers produced 9,600,000 tons of processing tomatoes and have shown an increase ever since – producing 14,010,000 tons in 2014. Growers are improving overall production performance by adopting and experimenting with different irrigation methods. In doing so, they are finding the fruit can thrive with less water than can many other field crops. For example, many growers have installed automated underground drip line or “buried tape” irrigation systems, allowing them to monitor moisture levels and control water usage and nutrient rates – some even through a mobile device.

Tomatoes Take K 

High Uptake = High Yields 

Because of higher yield expectations this year, tomatoes’ demand for potassium will be higher, too. A 50-ton-per-acre crop of processing tomatoes typically absorbs 300 to 400 pounds of K per acre. And, while application rates should always be determined using soil samples and/or tissue analysis, with tomatoes on their way to setting record production rates, it’s likely that the potassium in the soil won’t suffice the tomatoes’ insatiable need of the nutrient.

To ensure tomatoes are getting enough K to accommodate 2015’s demands, growers should consider K sources, like sulfate of potash (SOP), such as Protassium+® from Compass Minerals®. Unlike muriate of potash (MOP), Protassium+ provides potassium without the added threat of harmful chloride and salt content. Specific to tomato production, Protassium+ is 17 percent sulfate sulfur – which supports water use efficiency through stomata function, sugar and starch translocation – as well as reducing the impacts of pest and stress.

To learn more about how Protassium+ can help optimize tomato yields, contact us today at 1-855-308-3334.