Food & Farm News
» November 28, 2005 «
At greenhouses throughout California, nursery operators are juggling how to maintain production while paying sharply higher heating bills. Most greenhouses use natural gas to maintain the temperatures to grow their plants ... and analysts have warned that natural gas prices may be double their levels of a year ago. Some wholesale nursery owners say they must determine whether they can pass along any of their additional costs without losing customers.
The cost of diesel fuel affects competition for vegetable markets on the East Coast. California vegetable growers say transportation costs give Mexican imports an edge. Mexican vegetables that enter the U.S. in Texas are two days closer to the East Coast than domestically grown vegetables from California. Farmers here say those lower transportation costs can outweigh Eastern buyers' general preference for domestic vegetables.
To cut down on dust and improve air quality, California farmers will experiment with growing soybeans for air credits. The California Grain Foundation plans a study next year on the feasibility of planting soybeans after wheat harvest. Under current practices, wheat fields stand fallow until the following spring. The study seeks to learn whether planting soybeans will slow dust erosion. The soybeans would not be harvested, but be left to melt into the fields.
As prune growers work to balance supply with demand, researchers work to produce new varieties to enhance the fruit's flavor and appearance. Newly released prune varieties produce larger fruit with improved flavor. The trees have other attributes that appeal to both growers and consumers. But in recent years, California farmers have been removing more prune orchards than they've been planting ... and that has slowed sales of the new varieties.Top