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» November 22, 2006 «
As they prepare for the peak of their winter harvest, Imperial Valley vegetable farmers say they're worried about being able to hire enough people. Observers say the shortage of harvest help may reach 25 percent or more. Some farmers have scaled back their acreage, in order to assure they'll have enough people to harvest what they grow. Farms in neighboring Yuma, Arizona, also report shortages. The region produces most of the nation's wintertime supply of lettuce and other vegetables.
Thanksgiving weekend marks the season opening for most choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms. California farmers say their trees survived the hottest summer in recent memory and are in good shape for holiday shoppers. The California Christmas Tree Association says wholesale prices haven't increased much, so customers should find prices about the same as they were a year ago.
Finding out what college students like to eat will be just one part of a new study designed to connect farmers directly with institutional food buyers. More schools and hospitals have been buying fresh, locally grown foods to stock their cafeterias. The two-year study will assess the trend and how more small and mid-sized farms could benefit from it. University of California researchers in Santa Cruz and Davis will conduct the study.
Plant breeders now know more about how to develop tastier apples. A study published this week indicates that a compound called sorbitol appears to play a key role in apple quality. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that shows up naturally in apples. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, used biotechnology to create apple trees that produced less sorbitol. By doing that, they were able to assess the role it plays in apple growth and quality.Top