Ag 101: Must-Know Agriculture Facts About Tomatoes

Tomato Facts

Whether paired with bacon and lettuce, or diced fresh in a spicy salsa, tomatoes are a summertime staple. The vegetable is important for the U.S., the world’s second leading producer, behind China. Fresh-market tomatoes contributed $863.982 million to the economy in 2012. That same year, the U.S. harvested 94,700 acres of fresh-market tomatoes. Tomatoes used for processing (for juice, paste, sauce, etc.) brought a staggering $1.01 billion to the economy in 2012.

Top Tomato States
California takes the top spot in the country for both fresh-market and processing tomato production, producing more than 95 percent of U.S. tomatoes. In the fresh-market category, Florida comes in second, followed by Virginia, Georgia and Ohio. In tomato processing, the Golden State is followed by Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

Tasty Types of Tomatoes
Tomatoes come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Here’s a breakdown of tomato types:
1. Standard Globe – The standard globe is the tomato most often found in grocery stores. Globes are smooth, round and medium to large in size, but can vary in color from red to yellow.
2. Cherry – Cherries are the smallest tomatoes, and are round in shape, similar to cherries. They can range in size from one to two inches in diameter and come in a variety of colors.
3. Beefsteak – Beefsteak tomatoes are usually very large and wider than they are tall. They can also be very flat and irregularly shaped compared to other varieties.
4. Plum – Like the fruit of the same name, plum tomatoes are oval in shape and a little larger than cherry tomatoes, though still small. They are very popular for processing.

$2 billion: Fresh and processed tomatoes account for more than $2 billion in annual U.S. farm cash receipts. The two industries target different markets in the country, but are equally important in contributing to the economy.


–Rachel Bertone