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» October 24, 2006 «
Quantity may be down, but quality could prove exceptional for California winegrapes this season. Some observers say parts of the state could generate the best vintage in 25 years. Warm autumn weather improves the outlook. Winemakers say the warm days cause the sugar content of grapes to rise slowly ... and that enhances the flavor. They say that's particularly true of cabernet sauvignon grapes, which are just reaching maturity.
Unwelcome visitors such as Mediterranean, Mexican and Oriental fruit flies threaten hundreds of crops in California and other parts of the country. Federal authorities said yesterday (Monday) they will step up their ability to control exotic fruit flies. The U.S. Agriculture Department released a revised plan to prevent fruit-fly introductions. The USDA said one of its goals is to reduce the threat that Medflies and Mexican fruit flies will migrate north from Mexico.
The desire for convenience and the growing interest in ethnic foods have combined to spark added demand for processed onions. In California ... the nation's top onion-growing state ... farmers have been slowly increasing production to meet the new demand. As with many of the state's crops, processed-onion production has been dampened by cool, wet spring weather this year. But farmers say they'll be able to satisfy customer demand.
Vegetable-based chips and crisps are becoming increasingly common in the snack-food aisle. The Frito-Lay company plans to introduce a line of snacks that includes both vegetable crisps and fruit crisps. A consumer-trends firm reports nearly four-dozen new vegetable-snack products have been introduced in the past year. Companies are using dehydrated vegetables as ingredients in crackers, chips and other snack products.Top