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» November 12, 2008 «
No single factor is responsible for the rise in food prices, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service. Instead, a complex of interrelated global developments, including long-term supply and demand trends, higher energy prices, increased biofuels production, depreciation of the U.S. dollar, adverse weather and policy responses to domestic food-price inflation by a number of countries all add up to higher prices at the global grocery store.
Fertilizer costs have increased dramatically. Farm advisors are suggesting vineyard and orchard growers plant cover crops to provide soil nutrients at less cost than chemical fertilizers. Growers are learning which cover crops will capture and add the most nitrogen to the soil. Many farmers are planting winter-growing legumes now and will disk the residue into the soil in spring. That procedure is more efficient than mowing and leaving the residue to decompose on the surface.
Consumers may enjoy a better walnut as a result of research getting under way at UC Davis. Scientists are studying the genetic makeup of walnut trees. They hope to identify genetic markers that will enable breeders to develop trees that produce plumper walnuts. They're also seeking ways to produce walnut trees that are resistant to disease and that bloom when frost isn't as much of a challenge. The research is a four-year study.
Supply and demand for winegrapes are nearly in balance. As a result, farmers are talking with wineries about planting additional vineyards. Consumers continue to increase their purchases of California wines. Thus additional supplies of grapes are needed to keep California wine prices competitive. Growers and wineries are concerned that there will be adequate water supplies to produce good-size winegrape crops. Demand is increasing for all varietal winegrapes.Top