After a winter freeze depleted the supply of Florida tomatoes, tomatoes are back in volume.
The Florida Tomato Committee, a tomato marketing organization, estimates that 80 percent of the state's winter crop was wiped out by freezing temperatures that lasted several weeks. The sustained cold temperatures further delayed spring volumes, causing some restaurant chains to experience shortages or limit tomato usage in restaurants.
To date this season, Florida tomato growers have packed 52 percent of the total packed last year during the same time period. The bulk of Florida's tomato shipments are now coming from the Palmetto-Ruskin growing region where plants were set in February and March, after the worst of the freeze conditions passed.
Florida is the nation's largest producer of fresh tomatoes. With almost every southern county in the state cultivating tomatoes, Florida produces virtually all the fresh-market, field-grown tomatoes in the United States from October through June each year and accounts for about 50 percent of all fresh tomatoes produced domestically.