Mission Statement

Founded in 1968, The California Tomato Research Institute, Inc. is a non-profit organization of processing tomato growers. As the industry's research sponsor, the Institute's purpose is to identify, fund and direct research to maintain and enhance the economic viability of California's processing tomato industry with emphasis on production, product quality and the environment.

The CTRI program is comprised of short and long term projects

Crop Production Project Objectives 

  • Focus on Limiting Factor Management
  • Improve Monitoring, Diagnosis & Decision System Improvement on:
    • Diseases, Insects, Weed Management, Crop Nutrition, Irrigation
    • Represent industry on crop regulatory issues
    • Facilitate commercial product development by providing researcher coordination, field trials and market analysis,
  •   Variety Improvement Projects
    • Focus on improving consistent Yield & Quality
    • Statewide Field Trials
    • Molecular Marker Development of Disease and Insect Resistance
    • Soluble Solids Enhancement
    • Heat Set Ability and Salinity/Drought Tolerance Cooperative Projects
    • Alliance with the California League of Food Processoron crop quality improvement projects
    • Formation of funding partnerships beneficial to growers,with other agencies


2018 Processing Tomato Research Projects

Sponsored by the California Tomato Research Institute


Agronomic Management

Effects of irrigation and management practices on the soil health and crop properties of processing tomatoes – Kate Scow: Building on the historical work at Russell Ranch on processing tomatoes this team recognizes the significant gains that have been made via SSDI in both yield and water use efficiency. There aim with this study is to further understand and characterize practices which could be used alongside SSDI to preserve soil health while continuing to realize the gains of this, now industry standard, irrigation practice. Economic, as well as agronomic, performance metrics will be taken into account.

Germplasm & Variety Development

CM Rick Tomato Genetics Resource Center - Roger Chetelat: Annually the TGRC receives over 300 genetic material requests, domestically and globally, from both private and public breeders. These requests have led to discoveries which have added significant utility and dollar value to the processing tomato industry in the areas of disease resistance, field manageability, marketable traits, and yield. With the reality of increased disease pressure, maintaining this collection is of paramount importance. Including our 2018 annual support, the CTRI has provided this industry resource with over $590,000 since 1990.       

Wild tomato genome sequence analysis to discover novel genes for water stress tolerance - Dina St. Clair: It is estimated that the tomato industry globally has exploited only 10-15% of the wild tomato genome. For the last two years the St. Clair lab has been running complimentary projects seeking to identify and test “wild” genetic materials with the eventual goal of enabling marker assisted breeding of tomato cultivars that are productive while requiring less water. They have narrowed down on one genetic region and will use 2018 to further characterize this region.

Pest and Disease Management

Fungal Pathogens

Tracking down Typhoid Mary: Rotation crops as hidden hosts of F3 - Cassandra Swett: The ultimate goal of this proposal is to reduce the risk of F4 emergence by developing a deeper understanding of the potential of F3 to colonize, and to what extent, an expanded range of common weeds and rotation crops, in addition to resistant tomato cultivars.

Putting the right varieties in the right places: Rapid Fusarium wilt diagnosis, soil detection, and environmental risk assessment strategies to inform variety selection and reduce disease risk – Cassandra Swett: Collaborating with Frank Martin of the USDA, this project builds on the work of past CTRI funded projects in the characterization and molecular identification of F3. Using this past knowledge this team will work to develop a rapid diagnostic test for the detection of F3 in plant tissue, in addition to developing a test and protocol for determining the level of inoculum, i.e. risk, in a given field based on soil sampling.

The doppelganger dilemma: Improving resources for rapidly differentiating diverse crown rot and wilt diseases – Cassandra Swett: In a given season over 300 individual plant diagnostic samples are submitted to the diagnostics lab on the UC Davis campus with the expectation of quick and accurate results for ready translation back to the field. In addition to allowing for the characterization of a potential new crown rot, this project seeks to build the in-lab and in-field capacity of this team to better serve the industry in the long term.

Effects of deficit irrigation practices on Fusarium wilt and other root infecting pathogens of processing tomato - Cassandra Swett: Preliminary work in 2017 showed that root colonization in tomato by Fusarium wilt increases in plants with water stress. With the long term goal of reducing inoculum load in the soil this study proposes a review of soil management practices and their impacts on fungal pathogen communities.

Monitoring Southern Blight prevalence in Colusa County – Amber Vinchesi: 2017 provided the industry with the stark reminder that plant pathogens and their variable effect, given the right set of conditions, are not necessarily constrained by historical expectation or geography. This project is a prudent follow up to 2017 in particularly impacted fields to better understand the influence of inoculum load increases for potential severity and spread in subsequent years.

Tomato spotted wilt virus

The resistance-breaking strain of Tomato spotted wilt virus in the Central Valley of California: Survey, genetic variability, improved detection and screening for resistance - Bob Gilbertson: Resistance breaking (RB) TSWV strains, confirmed in 2016, now pose a major threat to the utility of resistant varieties across all growing regions. The expectation of this ongoing work is the development of resistance management tools AND the discovery of new sources of genetic resistance.

Relative susceptibility of processing tomato varieties to Tomato spotted wilt virus under commercial conditions in Central California – Tom Turini: Working directly in dealer trials flagged to have high TSWV pressure, this researcher ran a pilot of this study in 2017. Recognizing the potential of the 2017 work, the 2018 study seeks to scale this work up.

Proximal remote sensing as a diagnostic tool to detect Tomato spotted wilt virus in Western flower thrips – Christian Nansen: With support from the CDFA this lab is in the process of developing a diagnostics test based on proximal remote sensing technology for detecting the presence of TSWV in Western flower thrips. CTRI dollars will support the field sampling efforts of this work.

Curly Top virus

Reducing insect virus vectors of Beet Curly Top Virus in processing tomatoes through soil health management - Amélie Gaudin: A continuing project, this proposal seeks to assess the impact of soil health management practices (cover crops, compost and rotation practices) on tomato susceptibility to insect virus vectors. With significant results in the first two years the third year of this work will focus on mining the already collected data for predictive variables of insect preference which a soil testing tool could be built off of.

Can vector-borne diseases be managed in commercial fields using ethylene inhibitors – Aurélie Bak: With an expended scope to include TSWV this is the third year of work on this hypothesis. Promising results in the lab and test plots move this work to commercial fields in 2018. ReTain® and Landspring® will both be used with metrics of disease severity, yield, quality and harvest timing all being measured.

Nematode Management

Evaluation of Alternative Nematicides for the Control of Root-Knot Nematodes of Processing Tomatoes - Joe Nuñez: Proposal is for rotation experiments to develop resistance management practices with Nimitz®, Vellum®, and Vydate® and to test other promising nematicide products (including biologicals) at the Kern County Research Farm. The ongoing nature of this project is due to both the number of new materials recently coming onto the market in California, and the necessity of using these products in rotation to prevent the development of resistance.

Foliar Diseases

Evaluation of Chemical Control of Bacterial Speck - Gene Miyao: Continuation of the basic field evaluation of newer control products. This proposal focuses on extra-early plantings in replicated plots on the UC Davis campus. Due to grower interest and significant researcher commitment this project in 2018 is a no-cost extension.

Weed Management

Automatic Vision Guided Weed Control System for Processing Tomatoes - David Slaughter: An ongoing partnership grant with the USDA to build a new machine vision system specific to the processing tomato cropping system. Much of the foundational work which automated weeding systems for other crops are built on (Blue River Technology, etc.) started at the Slaughter Lab. Weed management being an ongoing, universal problem the CTRI will continue to search out innovators and innovations in this space.