Food & Farm News
» December 14, 2011 «
It's been a “double whammy” for many olive growers this year. California farmers expected a smaller crop because olive trees often alternate between years of large and small production. But then weather problems cut the crop even further. Some smaller-scale olive oil producers describe their harvest as a “scavenger hunt.” Observers say the maturation of new olive trees may help prevent a sharp drop in overall California olive oil production.
As they look back at their harvest, wheat farmers in Northern California say they benefitted from nearly ideal weather. A cool summer and no frost in September meant that wheat thrived in the Klamath Basin. Farmers in the area say the weather plus availability of water led to a record harvest. In the past, the farmers included wheat in their crop rotations mostly to maintain soil quality. Now, with high worldwide grain prices, farmers are earning strong prices for wheat.
Below-freezing temperatures during the past week hurt peppers and other vegetable crops in the Coachella Valley. Farmers say sustained cold weather dealt another blow to plants whose ripening had already been delayed because of cool temperatures earlier in the growing season. Some farmers say their harvest volumes are down because of the cold weather. Green bell pepper harvests were cut short and some lettuce plants suffered from blistering because of the freezes.
Farmers reap the fruits of technology these days, as they replace manual labor with mechanization, where possible. A study by the U.S. Agriculture Department showed that American farmers have increased their productivity during the past three decades, while using less land and less manpower. Labor usage decreased by about one-third, and acreage designated to farming in the U.S. has dropped by three percent since the early 1980s.Top