Our Mission:

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.


2019 Processing Tomato Research Projects

Sponsored by the California Tomato Research Institute


Agronomic Management

Effects of irrigation and management practices on soil health and soil salinity in processing tomatoes

Kate Scow  

This project aims to further understand and characterize practices which could be used alongside SSDI to preserve soil health while continuing to realize (and expand upon) the gains of this, now industry standard, irrigation practice. Economic, as well as agronomic, performance metrics will be taken into account by performing grower surveys and collecting and analyzing soil samples from growers from Arvin to Colusa.


Optimizing potassium fertilizer uptake efficiency while minimizing costs in processing tomato

Nicole Tautges & Brenna Aegerter

A follow up to recent studies, which have identified potassium (K) as an increasingly limiting factor in processing tomato production. This project will compare variable application types and timings, in-field. This study will provide tomato growers with new information on K fertilizer application tradeoffs for productivity and economics.


Effects of soil management on processing tomato associations with mycorrhizal fungi

Rachel Vannette, Amélie Gaudin & Clare Casteel

The goal of this project is to develop management recommendations which will assist growers to enhance the beneficial mycorrhizal populations in their fields. This will be accomplished through the sampling and testing of soils from variable management practices and through trialing mycorrhizal inoculants in-field. The microbiome of the soil is one of only a handful of areas in processing tomato production where more than incremental improvements are possible. Watch this space for projects which hold the promise of short term, practical application as well as projects with long term high payoff outcomes.  


Influence of compost application rates and timing on nitrogen management and processing tomato productivity and quality

Zheng Wang & Anthony Fulford

The impact of manure based composts on processing tomato production is well characterized. Less understood, but increasingly practiced, is the use of green waste composts. With mounting pressure from the ILRP to accurately account for all sources of  nitrogen, the outputs of this project will allow for a better understanding of the efficacy of green waste composts and the impacts of their use on nutrient management plans.


Germplasm & Variety Development

C.M. Rick Tomato Genetics Resource Center

Roger Chetelat

Annual support of the valuable germplasm bank.  Past exploration of the genetic materials housed here have added significant utility and $ 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 2019 annual support, the CTRI has provided this industry resource with over $600,000 since 1990.


Optical sorting (machine vision, machine learning, and robotics) to classify tomato seeds

Christian Nansen

A novel idea in an area which is a significant pain point for the industry: germination rate. Coming to the CTRI for funding only after providing impressive preliminary data, partial support was provided with the caveat that continued collaboration will require additional dollars. The researcher will need to raise these funds from the seed industry.


Insect & Invertebrate Management

Evaluation of alternative nematicides for the control of Root-Knot Nematodes of processing tomatoes

Jaspreet Sidhu & Joe Nunez

Performing field trials at the Kern County UCCE Research Station, this team has previously alerted the industry to the significance of Nimitz®, Velum ®, and Salibro ®. These are trials that the CTRI will support, in full, in years where new products are coming on the market. Significant cost sharing with industry and other commodity boards allows this work to continue.


Consperse Stink Bug IPM Update

Tom Turini

Besides basic IPM tactics (keeping borders clean, etc.) our industry has little knowledge of effective control measures, particularly those control measures possible once a problem is discovered. This proposal runs the gamut from detection-prevention-control, using past learnings while bringing in new collaborators.


Disease Management


Vectored Viruses

The resistance breaking strain of TSWV in California processing tomatoes: monitoring, improved detection and screening for resistance

Bob Gilbertson & Neil McRoberts

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 to develop and extend resistance management tools AND discover new sources of genetic resistance.


Varietal response to resistance breaking TSWV

Tom Turini

Working directly in dealer trials flagged to have high TSWV pressure, this researcher ran a pilot of this study in 2017. This was scaled up with a fully funded project in 2018. The 2019 project will add more data points, aiming for statistical significance. With no sources of genetic resistance believed to have been identified to date, understanding the tolerance of our current commercial varieties will be increasingly important in areas of high pressure.


Southern Blight

Screening varietal resistance for management of southern blight in processing tomatoes

Jaspreet Sidhu & Alex Putnam

Southern blight is a continued challenge in those areas and fields which have historically held high populations of the fungal pathogen, particularly those areas with limited rotational options. Due to the regional nature of this pathogen, varietal resistance has not been a focus of to-date industry efforts. This project will follow up on greenhouse studies that explore tolerance levels of current commercial varieties, adding Texas A&M developed varieties which claim to have resistance. Desired project outcomes include relative susceptibility of the tested cultivars to southern blight, in field conditions.


Fusarium Diseases

Fusarium wilt Race 3: Development of rapid diagnostics and crop rotation strategies; monitoring for Race 4 emergence

Cassandra Swett

The Swett Lab will continue its crucial work of developing tools to accurately detect  Fusarium wilt Race 3 in both plant and soil samples, characterizing survival curves for this pathogen in various environments in an effort to provide extension information on best rotational practices, while monitoring for race 4 emergence across the state. This project is well leveraged with outside funds and collaborations with the USDA, CDFA, along with  others.


Evaluation of Fusarium wilt survival in the Sacramento Valley as influenced by rotational crops of flooded rice and dry-farmed crops

Amber Vinchesi

The long-term goal of this project is to determine  whether summer flooding of rice crops or dry farming of other rotational crops reduces Fusarium pathogen in susceptible tomato crops. The short term output of this work will provide an answer as to whether using a newer, more inexpensive method of testing will prove efficacious in understanding pathogen breakdown in different environments.


Cultivar-based control strategies for Fusarium crown and root rot diseases of tomato 

Cassandra Swett

In the 2018 season, this lab characterized a new, speciated, crown rot disease of tomato. This project seeks to gain an initial grasp on the significance of this new pest. A practical, in field approach using commercially significant varieties is an important and prudent first step in characterizing and extending the problem. Additionally, this will provide some quick suggestions to growers who may already be dealing with this problem. Funding for this project also partially funds the vegetable crops diagnostics laboratory.


Weed Control & Management


Pre-emptive development of management strategies for branched broomrape in California processing tomato systems

Mohsen Mesgaran & Brad Hanson

This proposal is in direct response to a specific industry need - several recent findings of this invasive pest in processing tomato fields. There are four targeted areas of prioritization in this work: rapid detection, containment, eradication and long term management. Western Region IR4 and the CDFA E-Fund are providing substantial dollar support, in addition to CTRI direct project funding.


Evaluation of weed control in tomatoes comparing finger weeders to standard cultivation

Amber Vinchesi

With the recognition that automated weeders are cost prohibitive and not yet tailored to processing tomatoes, this proposal is an effort to introduce “intermediary” technologies to those growers in the industry who are struggling with hand weeding costs but left with no other options. This is an on-farm, cost effective approach to evaluate the use of this new technology.