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» August 18, 2006 «
They find themselves in competition with imported fruit at this time of year, but California farmers report good demand for their valencia oranges. The summer-harvested valencia variety now must compete with imported navel oranges from the Southern Hemisphere. Many groves of valencias have been removed in recent years. Now, marketers say, supply and demand are nearly equal. Most California-grown valencia oranges are sold to domestic markets, where demand has been strong.
Fewer fresh vegetables reached market last month, and analysts say California's intense heat wave may have something to do with that. The U.S. Agriculture Department says shipments of cool-season crops such as lettuce and celery dropped during July, possibly because the heat reduced yields. The report says vegetable supplies have also been disrupted by the cool, wet spring and by rains in Eastern states.
Shoppers have found more summertime artichokes available in retail stores. A new variety of artichoke has produced more of the tasty thistles this summer than ever before. Farmers use patented varieties that they plant each year, to produce the summer crop. Weather in the Castroville growing region has been ideal. The usual fall flush from the perennial plants is expected to start about mid-September, which is the typical time.
In more parts of California, consumers and farmers now participate in a system known as "subscription farming." Urban residents pay a fee to a farmer, who provides them with a box of fresh fruit and vegetables each week. While customers benefit from a regular supply of fresh produce, participants say the program can be of particular interest to young farmers, by providing them with a steady cash flow. Subscription farming works particularly well in California, where farmers can harvest year round.Top