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» July 8, 2005 «
Apples show good color as they ripen in Northern San Joaquin Valley orchards. Farmers say a cool spring has helped their fruit develop the color that buyers prefer. Apple growers report that fruit size and sugar content are also developing faster. The crop looks clean, and harvest could begin somewhat ahead of average. California farmers harvested nearly 400 million pounds of apples last year.
Warmer temperatures have helped melon crops mature in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Farmers who thought their specialty melons wouldn't make it to market until later this month now say they have some fruit available already. Each warm day, the melons grow in size and add sugar. The Central Valley produces most California-grown melons, and the region's farms will continue sending melons to market throughout the summer and early autumn.
Watermelon marketers say they plan to trumpet the nutritional benefits of the fruit. The California-Arizona Watermelon Association says it will promote research findings that show watermelon as a prime source of lycopene. Lycopene, an antioxidant, may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other serious illnesses. Researchers at Texas A&M University say watermelon should be considered more seriously as a health food.
A cooperative effort among farmers and food banks will distribute more than 10 million pounds of produce to needy families this year. Now in its 15th season, Ag Against Hunger supplies surplus fresh produce to food banks from its headquarters in Salinas. More than 50 grower-packers provide the organization with surplus food. Ag Against Hunger distributes the fresh produce to organizations throughout California and five other Western states.
On the Calendar:
The Orange County Fair has proclaimed this the Year of the Avocado. The fair starts today (Friday) in Costa Mesa.