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» December 2, 2005 «
As more Americans buy holiday gifts over the Internet, sellers of food and wine gift baskets say they've seen steady increases in online sales. Operators credit convenience as a main reason. One Sonoma County gift-basket provider says it has noticed annual increases in online sales since it began selling via the Web eight years ago. Even shoppers who don't buy online may use a Web site to research telephone or mail-in orders.
Although California dominates U.S. production of tree nuts, pecans have been a relatively small crop in the state. But that may be starting to change. Farmers say the state's pecan acreage may double during the next five years. Nurseries report increasing demand for young pecan trees. Pecans may prosper in soils that won't support almond trees. Most pecans grow in the Southeast, and production in Mississippi and Louisiana suffered because of hurricane damage this year.
There's not as much sweet corn on the market this fall. Florida is typically the main source of supply this time of year, but hurricanes ruined much of the state's crop. That has brought more demand for farmers in other areas who may have sweet corn to sell. In the Imperial Valley, farmers have seen the prices they earn for sweet corn nearly double, compared to a year ago. Weather aided Imperial Valley farmers, as the region had above-average temperatures that led to sweet corn with above-average quality.
Consumers may see slightly lower prices for lemons in retail stores. That's due to a 7 percent increase in production, leading to the biggest crop in three years. Farmers have seen the prices they earn for fresh lemons fall about 28 percent, compared to last season. But high fruit quality has brought increased demand from Japanese consumers. California produces more than 85 percent of American-grown lemons.Top