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» June 19, 2006 «
Fresh, California-grown apricots will be an unusually rare treat this spring and summer. A government forecast says this year's crop could be the lightest ever produced in California. Apricot acreage has continued to decline, and yields from the remaining orchards will be half their levels of a year ago. Crop watchers say apricot yields have been cut by warm winter temperatures that weakened the bloom, followed by a rainy spring that caused further trouble.
There should be more beef on the market this spring, and that could mean lower retail prices for the summer grilling season. The U.S. Agriculture Department projects that beef production will rise 7 percent in the current quarter, compared to the same time a year ago. Average retail beef prices could drop below $4 a pound as a result. The USDA says demand for beef remains strong, with consumption rising compared to a year ago.
Although California dominates strawberry production in the United States, this is the time of year when the state's farmers begin to see more competition from growers in other regions. California farmers produce 88 percent of the strawberries grown in the U.S. The top export market for California strawberries is Canada, and Canadian farmers have planted more strawberries this year. But the California Strawberry Commission says it expects continued strong demand from north of the border.
It's been popular at farmers' markets in the San Joaquin Valley for a couple of years, and a new seedless grape variety may soon become more readily available. Known as the Thomcord, the grape is a cross between the blue-black Concord grape and the familiar, green Thompson seedless variety. Developed by fruit breeders at a federal research station near Fresno, the Thomcord grape was tested for 17 years before being released for sale to farmers and home gardeners.Top