A 1993 survey of 50 commercial processing tomato fields in California revealed widespread potassium deficiency, as determined by tissue K levels below existing sufficiency standards and the occurrence of vine necrosis consistent with K deficiency. Soils from these fields were analyzed for exchangeable K by ammonium acetate extraction, and for K release rate by a 7 day incubation procedure (1:10 soil:. 01 M CaCl2 at 25°). Soil K release rate was more highly correlated with tissue K at midseason than was exchangeable K. These soils were further examined for K fixation capacity. Three g soil was blended with 3 ml 10 meq K as KNO3, allowed to dry, incubated for 7 days in a 1:10 soil: H2O solution, then extracted in 1 N NH4Cl; added K not recovered was considered fixed. Percent K fixation ranged from 0 to 82%. These data suggest that the inconsistent response of processing tomato to K application in numerous California trials may be related to a) the reliance on extractable K analysis to characterize soil K supply and b) no consideration of soil K fixation capacity in determining K application timing and method.