Food & Farm News
» August 10, 2011 «
It's National Farmers Market Week, and Californians have more to celebrate than anyone else. California continues to lead the nation in the number of farmers markets, according to the US Agriculture Department. It says more than 1,000 new markets have opened across the country this year, including 149 in California. In all, California hosts 729 farmers markets. Officials call the markets a critical ingredient in the nation's food supply.
Farmers in the Central Valley say this year's crop of blueberries could be the best ever, in both quality and crop size. Crop analysts report that San Joaquin Valley blueberry farmers are in the midst of their harvest. Blueberries on the same plant can ripen at different times, so the harvest takes place three or four times throughout the summer. Prices for consumers are usually highest early in the harvest season, which began in mid-May, and shoppers can expect increased supplies at markets now.
After several years of fluctuating supplies and prices, lemon growers say they're looking forward to a better year. Crop forecasters say California farms should produce 8 percent more lemons than a year ago. Farmers are currently packing lemons, and say harvest conditions have improved after a slow start. Most lemons are sold to restaurants and other food service businesses, and California supplies nearly 90 percent of lemons grown in the US.
While farmers in the middle of the country assess the impact of drought and heat on their corn, California's relatively small corn crop looks good as harvest approaches. California Corn Growers, a cooperative located in Chowchilla, sells corn for tortillas and chips. It says California farmers struggled with weather themselves during the planting season. But while the California crop has recovered, weather problems elsewhere could affect supplies and prices for corn used in a number of products.Top