Food & Farm News
October 2, 2013
Pumpkin farmers begin harvest
As the calendar turns to October, pumpkin farmers gear up for their key season. Farmers say crop quality looks very good and will stay that way if rainfall holds off until after harvest. Most of the pumpkins grown in California are sold within the state, and California ranks second in the nation in pumpkin production, behind Illinois. Pumpkin patches appear in communities throughout the state, but most commercial pumpkin farming occurs in San Joaquin County.
Olive harvest varies by region
Harvest has begun in California olive orchards, with farmers reporting mixed results. Central California growers report heavier crops this year, but Northern California farmers say olive crops have been smaller. Northern growers also say they've had problems hiring enough people to harvest their olives. Table olives are picked by hand, and farmers in some cases have been working with crews that have about half as many people as usual.
Pomegranate production increases
California-grown pomegranates are arriving in produce sections, with about 20 percent of the harvest complete so far. Pomegranate acreage has increased in the San Joaquin Valley during the past 15 years, and the Pomegranate Council says consumer demand for the fruit has been rising at the same time. Even so, the council says, about 80 percent of the U.S. population has still not tasted pomegranate—leaving plenty of room for additional growth.
Chinese demand to influence nut exports
People around the world want to buy California almonds, walnuts and pistachios, and tree-nut exports have nearly doubled in the past five years. A report by Rabobank says demand from China will be a significant influence in the future. About 40 percent of pistachio exports go to China, and about 20 percent of almond and walnut exports. In addition, China leads the world in walnut production, but still must import nuts to meet domestic demand.