(April 11) California tomato growers reported a mostly uneventful planting season and look forward to 2007.

Frost in late March and early April almost took a toll on the heirlooms and yellow beefsteaks planted by San Diego Specialty Produce, Chula Vista, said David Llano, general manager.

Because of warm weather earlier in March, San Diego Specialty had planned on transplanting tomatoes to California acreage a little earlier than usual, Llano said. Fortunately, the plan fell through, he said — otherwise, the freeze could have hit the first California tomatoes of the season hard.

As it is, San Diego Specialty looks forward to a good year for its specialty tomatoes grown in California, though the deal will be smaller than in years past, Llano said. Labor costs have forced the company to grow more tomatoes in Mexico and fewer in California, he said.

San Diego Specialty’s California deal should start in late June, right on time, Llano predicted. He expected good demand for the company’s Golden State heirlooms through July.

Deardorff-Jackson Co., Oxnard, also expects to begin harvesting its California-grown tomatoes in late June, said David Cook, sales manager. The company looks forward to shipping vine-ripes and romas from Ventura County through November this year, he said.

The company will grow slightly more romas this year in California, he said.

Despite a poor start to the planting season, Cook expects good volumes from California this summer and fall.

“The weather in early March was a little rough, but since then it’s been normal,” he said. “We should have normal volumes.”

New this year for Deardorff-Jackson’s California tomato crop will be an organic program, Cook said. The company will grow organic romas on about 25 acres, he said.