Food & Farm News
April 2, 2014
Snow stays scarce
Farms and cities that depend on water from the Sierra snowpack find its water content remains far below average, despite recent storms. According to a state snow survey on Tuesday, the snowpack stands at only 32 percent of average. The start of April is the time of year when the snowpack normally peaks, before melting into streams and reservoirs. The final survey of the year is scheduled for May 1.
Field crop acreage to drop
Amid a year of historically low water deliveries, many California farmers intend to cut their plantings of field crops. Forecasts released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show the state’s expected acreage for corn is down 28 percent from last year and acreage for rice down 20 percent. Plantings of upland-variety cotton could reach the lowest level since 1921, and other cotton acreage will also be down sharply.
Drought brings concern about exports
Production of many of California’s top agricultural exports is expected to decline due to water shortages this year. Marketers say that could affect their ability to supply key export customers, and hang onto them in the future. The outcome has implications throughout the California economy, observers say, because farm exports generate jobs in both rural areas and at ports and other urban workplaces.
Vegetable production declines slightly
California remains, by far, the largest source of domestically grown vegetables, according to a new report summarizing production for 2013. The state’s farmers produced 49 percent of fresh vegetables and 71 percent of processed vegetables grown in the U.S. But total vegetable production in California declined 4 percent last year. Of the two-dozen vegetable crops surveyed, only five increased in production.