Food & Farm News
» December 21, 2011 «
Cool weather is keeping orchards on track for a good 2012 season. Many tree fruit crops including cherries, apples and pears require about 1,000 "chill hours" where temperatures drop below 45 degrees. The San Joaquin County Farm Advisor notes that he typically begins measuring the chill hours in early November, and so far the region has received more than 450 chill hours. This is ahead of last year's numbers, which were at 300 hours at this time. The measurement of chill hours continues through mid-March when the temperatures increase and trees begin to bloom.
While tree fruit growers are counting the chill hours, the nip in the air isn't cooling Americans' appetite for locally grown produce, according to a US Agriculture Department report on winter farmers markets. California has seen a 12 percent increase in winter farmers markets over the past year, today totaling more than 150. New York is the only state to have more winter farmers markets, with 180. The Agriculture Department says that winter farmers markets meet the need of consumers looking to buy locally grown food throughout the year.
As the holidays arrive, the California Cattlemen's Association says that strong demand indicates that many holiday festivities will include beef. As overseas and American consumers continue to seek out US beef, the association says ranchers nationwide are in need of a productive winter with plenty of rain and snow. US Agriculture Department statistics indicate that less than 70 percent of California's pasture and rangelands are in good to fair condition and that more rain is needed as winter progresses.
The fall harvest of California potatoes is winding down, and so far production numbers look good. Current estimates show California's production to be up about a third when compared with the same time last year. The reports from early December show the harvest was slightly behind normal timing, with about two-thirds of the crop harvested. Nationally, the supply of potatoes is expected to increase by six percent and California's production is forecasted to reach nearly 215,000 tons.Top