Tomato harvesters get jump on crop

slynch@mercedsunstar.comAugust 5, 2013 

— Scoto Bros Farms was abuzz with activity on Thursday morning as the latest crop of tomatoes was ready to harvest.

Harvest supervisor Loren Scoto said the morning harvest had about 100 participants and lasted from 6:30 a.m. until noon.

He anticipated that the field being picked should keep the harvesters busy through August.

"With tomatoes, you're looking for some color in the crown, which is the very center of the tomatoes," Scoto said. "The other thing we check is on some of the outlying plants.

"We'll pick a couple of the medium-sized ones and cut them open. We're looking to see if the locular — which is the part that holds the seeds — is fully gelled up.

"If you have both, you're good to go."

Scoto Bros Farms consists of 3,000 acres of land on the outskirts of Merced and into Planada that produces a variety of crops for food services.

In Merced County, tomatoes brought in about $90 million in 2011, according the latest crop report.

Tomatoes are one of the top crops in the region, with most being picked for processing at nearby canneries and the rest going to the fresh-food market, including restaurants and grocery stores.

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