RED AND RIPE FOR THE PICKIN’ -- Visitors come from distant parts of state to buy Camp Verde tomatoes
Who do people call to find out how this year’s tomato crop is doing? – David Stutzman.
Who do tomato growers call for advice about growing their bright red plump delights? – David Stutzman.
So how are the tomatoes doing this year, David Stutzman?
“The tomatoes are ready,” Stutzman said Wednesday in front of his popular, pick-your-own tomato stand on Salt Mine Road. “They have been ready for about two weeks now.”
“Usually, it’s the last week of July, but it’s been a tough year due to the rain and other weather last spring and the curly top virus.”
Stutzman said he lost about 20 percent of his plants to the virus. The farmer still has 3,500 tomato plants for people to pick from today.
There are “plenty of tomatoes, good tomatoes, they are very sweet tomatoes, probably the sweetest in the Verde Valley. I have been told they are the sweetest in the state.”
Stutzman should know because people come from as far away as Tucson, Phoenix, “way up on the Reservation and even from Yuma.”
The family has been growing tomatoes since 1998, but also grows fresh onions, cucumbers, chili, squash, bell peppers and other vegetables.
“I get people stopping in for advice which is good. I like that. I like to share what I know about growing tomatoes and hopefully they have a good crop.”
Stutzman said they are closed Monday and Tuesday, and open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. the rest of the week. The season runs “until we’re out of tomatoes,” he said.
Usually that goes into September, and the veteran tomato grower is trying to extend the season with three new rows of plants that he planted later in the season that he is calling his “September tomatoes.”