Food & Farm News
September 19, 2012
Rice harvest begins
Following a late start to the planting season, rice growers say they expect to have a good crop this year. The harvest has gotten under way in the Sacramento Valley, with many farmers saying they expect the main part of the harvest to start this week. Forecasters say the state's rice crop could be about 2 percent larger than last year's, with harvest anticipated to last through November. According to the California Rice Commission, 2012 marks the 100th rice harvest in the state's history.
Sweet potato growers see better crop
Sweet potato growers in California say warm weather has been a welcome change for their crop this year. Last year's crop suffered some damage when heavy rains hit the early growth of the sweet potatoes. Farmers say this year has been better, and as a result the crop has a consistent high quality. The sweet potato harvest season began around Labor Day. If the fields remain dry, harvest should continue through November.
Farmland prices rise
For people trying to enter the business of farming, the cost of land can be a significant hurdle. Prices to buy or rent California farm and ranch land broke records this year, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. The average price of California farmland stands at 7,200 dollars an acre. Property that has access to irrigation commands the highest prices. The cost to rent farmland has also increased.
Researchers test robotic berry harvester
What has 10 arms and has intrigued strawberry farmers? The answer is a robotic harvesting machine being tested at the Monterey Bay Academy. The machine uses sensors to choose strawberries of the right color and size. Next, robotic arms gently pluck the ripe fruit from vines, and deposit the berries on a conveyer belt that drops the berries into containers. The machine remains in the experimental stage.