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August 17, 2011

It's Tomato Pickin' Time!

Well the tomato's survived flood and drought and it is pickin' time!


The growing time for field tomato's is approx. 90 days, check out planting them here and in between planting and harvesting was a lot of spraying!  Tomato's are highly susceptible to fungus and have to be sprayed with fungicide once a week - that is alot of time in the sprayer seat, especially when you top out at 4mph.



Here are some great pics my Mom took of the blooms and tomato's coming on!







Then there was the day this summer that the sky opened up and it poured - my SIL walked out on her front porch and took this picture - it is not a lake it is one of their tomato fields under all that water!
                                        

Luckily most of the water receded quickly enough that the majority of the plants survived.

So now they are harvesting!



The harvester can only run between 1 and 2 mph.  The tractor running beside is pulling a trailer that the tomato's are being put into - it is a flat bed semi trailer with two hoppers on it to fill, they pull these thru the fields with tractors and then unhook them, hook up to a semi and are hauled to Elwood, Indiana to the Red Gold plant.

This wheel with the tines are pulling in the vines towards the cutters that cut the plant and put in on the conveyor into the tent where the tomato's are sorted (some by hand some by machine) - I did not get in the tent area and get to actually see how the sorting process works - the whole harvesting process seemed very intense and attention demanding, as well as with a fresh crop such as tomato's time is a huge factor in getting the crop harvested and to the processing plant.

Can you say salsa!  If I ever get time I am going over one day and walk behind them and pick up the good ones and make salsa!
They are good straight out of the field, give a good wipe on your t-shirt and eat them like an apple or pop the whole thing in your mouth!

  Just like in a garden all the tomato's are not ready at once but unlike your garden these have to be harvested when the majority of them are ready - there is about a 5-10% waste, those that are too small, green or over ripe.

This is my Dad unhooking from the tractor so that the next semi to come back for a load can hook up and go!  It is about a 3.5 hour round trip to the plant and they (the farmer or the processing plant) do not want the tomato's to sit in the trailers for any longer then necessary so they are hauled as quickly as possible.

Red Gold pays for a max. 25 Ton of tomato's per semi trailer load - they don't pay over!  This is to discourage overloading the trailers and squashing the tomato's on the bottom.


Interestingly, I have not seen it done but Dad said that they empty these hoppers full of tomato's by filling them with water, opening a gate and floating them all out!

Another interesting note my SIL just told me was that the tomato's are in the can in less than 24 hours!

Authors (that's me) disclaimer:  This is based on my uninformed guessing limited knowledge - if I have mislead anyone I apologize, please keep my stupidity quiet and if I have taught you something please shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear!

9 comments :

  1. Here's my Shout Out...I had no idea tomatoes are highly susceptible to fungus, that could explain why some of our leaves and branches have died this year...hmmm, I am going to check into that. Thanks!!! :-)

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  2. Wondered how they did that I have seen them harvest green beans. Look whats is left in the field.

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  3. Fascinating! I must say it does all seem rather labor intensive.

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  4. haha i do like your disclaimer! And yes i learned something soooo i'm going up on the roof now and start shouting!

    Great pics (besides from the scary water pic)!

    Leontien

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  5. Well I surely have learned a lesson from you. Fascinating, I have never seen this done before. I am a cattle farmer I should get out more I guess. B

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  6. I'm so glad to see a post about this after the photo on Facebook the other day. This was super interesting. I'm going to show my husband. We know about harvesting wheat, hay and baby calves ... not so much about harvesting tomatoes! Though we do like to eat them. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Our neighbors started picking yesterday.

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  8. This has been a interesting process for formerly grain crop farmers. Huge learning curve! We (Jen's family) have found every aspect of growing tomatoes to be fascinating. Thanks to you, Jen, for sharing the pics and the info with others.

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  9. Awesome! I have actually seen them float them in and it is cool!!

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