Wattie’s marks the end of its tomato harvest season this week with some of the highest yielding tomato paddocks in the company’s 50-year history.
This season, Wattie’s have hit a new record with a crop of 140 metric tons per hectare. That is the equivalent of 5.6kg per plant or 14kg of tomatoes for every square metre and approximately a 5% increase on the highest yield previously achieved.
More impressive is that this is 40% higher than Wattie’s 5-year average yield. Twenty years ago, the 5-year average tomato harvest was 80 metric tons per hectare.
The tomato harvest season started in mid-February and since then, has been going 24 hours a day. Over this time, Wattie’s has harvested and processed 39,000 metric tons of field tomatoes.
Wattie’s Managing Director Neil Heffer, says, “Our Hawke’s Bay tomato growers have produced another bumper crop this season, hitting a new record in our 50-years of operation.
“Our harvest team have worked extremely hard to keep the machinery operating through several wet weather spells to maximise our yield from each tomato crop. We couldn’t be prouder of the team in delivering the key ingredient to many of our Wattie’s products,” Heffer said.
“We are fortunate to have a local family helping with the tomato harvest, a family that has done so for more than two decades. They operate the harvesters and tractors right through the harvest season, approximately 70 days, day and night and we are extremely grateful for their support again this year.”
Wattie’s tomatoes are used in products such as tomato paste as well as peeled, diced and canned tomato products. The tomato varieties are what most New Zealander’s know as Roma or ‘acid free’.
The Wattie’s factory processes these into various canned tomato by steaming, peeling and/or dicing them. Others are put through a tomato evaporator and made into condensed tomato paste, which is then used in products like soup, baked beans, and spaghetti.