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Stories from the valley

Where Ketchup gets its start

Contributed by Steve Beckley

Processing tomatoes are an important crop for California and the Sacramento Valley.  This year they will be grown on 293,000 acres yielding 49.5 tons per acre for a total crop of 14.5 million tons.

I worked for California Tomato Growers Association in the 1980s and, back then, a yield of 28 tons per acre was consider a good crop with the total state crop at about six million tons.  Today new varieties, improved cultural practices and drip irrigation have contributed to the record yields.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Morning Star Company in Williams the other day and getting an up close view of what happens after the tomatoes leave the field.  This plant is one of four tomato processing plants located north of Hwy 80.  There are other plants throughout the Central and San Joaquin Valley of California.  These plants provide many jobs for the residents of our area and run 24 hours of day from early July to mid October.

MorningStar 3a

The products produced by Morning Star at this plant are sent to food processors and put into ketchup, pizza sauce, salsa and many other products that we enjoy almost daily.