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» March 23, 2006 «
Asparagus harvest is increasing in volume in the Sacramento delta-growing region. Cool dry conditions have helped keep the fungal disease slime, which attacks asparagus in wet weather, at a minimum. Growers have been waiting for the rain to stop so they can increase production. Mexican farmers are finishing their season, leaving the market to California growers. Easter, which is late this year, usually causes a spike in demand for fresh asparagus.
Winegrape growers say their vines are about ready to break. Cold weather slowed development so that earlier predictions of an early bloom were incorrect. There has been some frost damage reported among early varieties. Because of cloudy and rainy weather last June when this year's buds formed, farmers think the clusters may be smaller than last year when a production record was established. Growers hope for a dry spell as buds open, as rain then could further reduce the size of this year's crop.
Prices farmers in California received in February for field crops were mixed, according to federal government statistics. Prices increased from January for dry edible beans, winter potatoes, and alfalfa hay. But, prices for fall potatoes were lower than the previous month as were prices for hay other than alfalfa hay. There wasn't enough data to establish a price for barley, oats and cottonseed.
An ACNielsen survey shows a dramatic increase in the sale of pre-cut fresh salads sales in the last year. Sales increased 38 percent for the year ending in January. That increase is three times greater than increases over the last five years. The survey shows branded salads are leading the sales hike. Consumers like the ease of merely opening the bag to have a salad ready to eat. Organic salads are also increasing in sales, but are still a small portion of the total purchases.
On the Calendar:
The theme is "Cultivating a Career in Agriculture" for the annual Marin County Farm Day today (Thursday) in San Rafael.