Food & Farm News
» June 27, 2012 «
Wildfires sparked by fireworks pose a real threat to rangeland and field crops this time of year. To prepare for the Fourth of July, farmers with especially vulnerable crops like hay and wheat will try to complete their harvest before the holiday. They will start with fields closest to incorporated areas, and ranchers will keep a vigilant eye on dry pastures that may be especially susceptible to fires.
Shoppers can expect to see lower prices as the availability of broccoli rebounds. Prices have been unusually high this month because of short supplies, but now growers in the Salinas Valley are reporting that the market is evening out and starting to come down. Earlier supplies of broccoli had been impacted by rain during the planting season that made it difficult for farmers to bring machinery into the fields. Since then the weather has warmed up, helping the plants grow quickly and boost the overall supply of broccoli.
With compounds 300 to 400 times sweeter than sugar and no calories, farmers see a lot of promise in the stevia plant. China is currently the predominant grower of stevia, but California farmers would like to see the state become a hub for stevia. Growers here were the first to produce stevia in the United States and are expanding their farms to include more plants. The natural sweetener extracted from the plant is used in teas, soft drinks and flavored water. Analysts say they expect the market to expand as the plant's health benefits are promoted more widely.
As California's rice crop progresses well, farmers in other states are working to mirror some of the successful programs that California rice growers have pioneered. A recent report notes that California rice farmers have listened to their customers and planted the varieties of rice that are in the most demand, and ensured a high-quality crop. Most of California's rice crop is medium- and short-grain, which is used in much of the country's sushi production and valued by consumers in South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.Top