Blog Archives

Mexican citrus affected by weather

Mexican citrus affected by weather

Hurricanes hitting different parts of Mexico’s citrus-producing regions could lead to lighter crops for the 2014-2015 season.

Orange production in Mexico, most of which is centred in the state of Veracruz, is forecast at 4.3 million metric tons, according to a report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Production for the previous season is estimated at 4.3 MMT, and the report points to cold weather and drought conditions as factors in the slight decline. In fact, dry conditions, as well as rising production costs and volatile returns, have caused many growers to abandon their orange groves this year. Yields are expected to reach 13.3 metric tons per hectare for the 2014-2015 season, while the previous season’s yields reached 13.6 metric tons per hectare.

The lime crop for 2014-2015 is expected to be about the same as the one from the previous season. Both crops are estimated at 2.2 MMT. Grapefruit production is expected to reach 420,000 MT for the 2014-2015 season, a slight drop from the previous season’s production. Yields are also expected to take a dip, with 2014-2015 grapefruit yields forecast at 24.2 metric tons per hectare, while the previous season’s yields are estimated at 24.7 metric tons per hectare.

Publication date: 12/24/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez / Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

USDA Issues Food Safety Tips for People Affected by Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued some food safety recommendations for the state of Hawaii due to the forecast for severe weather conditions related to Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.

Category 1 Hurricane Iselle was expected to arrive on the Big Island by Thursday evening, bringing heavy rains, winds gusting up to about 84 miles per hour and flooding in some areas. After Iselle seemed to pick up strength on Wednesday, weather officials changed their outlook and said it was likely to maintain hurricane status after hitting land.

“What ended up happening is the storm has resurged just enough to keep its hurricane strength,” said Mike Cantin, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service.

However, Category 2 Hurricane Julio was expected to hit Hawaii as a tropical storm or low-level hurricane this weekend. Julio was close behind Iselle on Thursday but with higher maximum winds clocking in at about 99 miles per hour. Even so, weather officials said that Julio was likely to weaken by Thursday night and on into the weekend.

Both storms are expected to bring heavy rain, flash flooding, and strong wind gusts. This type of weather forecast presents the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food.

FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure that temperatures remain food-safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 degrees F or lower in the refrigerator and 0 degrees F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. Doing this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer. This “igloo” effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. Any food in your freezer that is partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storms progress from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @HI_FSISAlert.

FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

Food Safety News

USDA Issues Food Safety Tips for People Affected by Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued some food safety recommendations for the state of Hawaii due to the forecast for severe weather conditions related to Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.

Category 1 Hurricane Iselle was expected to arrive on the Big Island by Thursday evening, bringing heavy rains, winds gusting up to about 84 miles per hour and flooding in some areas. After Iselle seemed to pick up strength on Wednesday, weather officials changed their outlook and said it was likely to maintain hurricane status after hitting land.

“What ended up happening is the storm has resurged just enough to keep its hurricane strength,” said Mike Cantin, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service.

However, Category 2 Hurricane Julio was expected to hit Hawaii as a tropical storm or low-level hurricane this weekend. Julio was close behind Iselle on Thursday but with higher maximum winds clocking in at about 99 miles per hour. Even so, weather officials said that Julio was likely to weaken by Thursday night and on into the weekend.

Both storms are expected to bring heavy rain, flash flooding, and strong wind gusts. This type of weather forecast presents the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food.

FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure that temperatures remain food-safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 degrees F or lower in the refrigerator and 0 degrees F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. Doing this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer. This “igloo” effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. Any food in your freezer that is partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storms progress from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @HI_FSISAlert.

FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

Food Safety News

USDA Issues Food Safety Tips for People Affected by Hurricanes Iselle and Julio

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued some food safety recommendations for the state of Hawaii due to the forecast for severe weather conditions related to Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.

Category 1 Hurricane Iselle was expected to arrive on the Big Island by Thursday evening, bringing heavy rains, winds gusting up to about 84 miles per hour and flooding in some areas. After Iselle seemed to pick up strength on Wednesday, weather officials changed their outlook and said it was likely to maintain hurricane status after hitting land.

“What ended up happening is the storm has resurged just enough to keep its hurricane strength,” said Mike Cantin, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service.

However, Category 2 Hurricane Julio was expected to hit Hawaii as a tropical storm or low-level hurricane this weekend. Julio was close behind Iselle on Thursday but with higher maximum winds clocking in at about 99 miles per hour. Even so, weather officials said that Julio was likely to weaken by Thursday night and on into the weekend.

Both storms are expected to bring heavy rain, flash flooding, and strong wind gusts. This type of weather forecast presents the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food.

FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure that temperatures remain food-safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 degrees F or lower in the refrigerator and 0 degrees F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. Doing this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer. This “igloo” effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few days worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. Any food in your freezer that is partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storms progress from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @HI_FSISAlert.

FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

Food Safety News

FSIS Offers Food Safety Tips for Areas Affected Post-Hurricane Arthur

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued some food safety recommendations for the Mid-Atlantic states potentially affected by severe weather conditions related to Hurricane Arthur (downgraded Saturday to a Post-Tropical Storm).
The National Weather Service, which upgraded Arthur from tropical storm to hurricane status on Thursday, said that the storm was meandering off the east coast of Florida and was expected to slowly drift northwest overnight before turning north later. A steady strengthening is forecast as the storm approaches the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This type of weather forecast presents the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food.

FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:

  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 degrees F or lower in the refrigerator and 0 degrees F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer — this “igloo” effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Keep a few day’s worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross-contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:

  • Check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. Any food in your freezer that has partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @FL_FSISAlert, @GA_FSISAlert, @SC_FSISAlert, @NC_FSISAlert, and @VA_FSISAlert

The FSIS YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov  or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can email, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT.

Food Safety News

Banana workers affected by pesticide block Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly

Banana workers affected by pesticide block Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly

A group of banana workers blocked the entrances and exits of the Legislative Assembly yesterday for at least an hour.

The move came after the workers had waited until 7pm for the hearing of Bill 18.802, which aims to provide direct compensation to workers affected by the pesticide Nemagon, a pesticide which was commonly used on banana plantations and which causes a number of diseases, most commonly sterility in men. The bill was scheduled to be read yesterday, but by 7pm the group began to grow angry as it became apparent that the bill would not be heard by the end of the day.

Shortly after 7pm, the workers began blocking the entrances and exits to the Legislative Assembly, preventing lawmakers from leaving.  The situation continued for about an hour, until security forces arrived at the scene and dispersed the workers.

“We have been asking for this bill since July 2003,” a spokesperson for the workers told the daily Diario Extra, who said he has suffered health problems as a result of his exposure to Nemagon.  The man added that medical examinations – apparently to determine sterility – by the National Insurance Institute (INS), which has provided compensation to some workers, are “inhuman.”

Nemagon was banned in the United States in 1979 after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined the pesticide was a carcinogen and caused sterility in male mammals, including humans.

The pesticide is also known to contaminate groundwater, even years after its use is discontinued. Human exposure comes as a result of inhalation, skin contact, or from contaminated drinking water. Besides causing sterility, Nemagon, also known as DBCP, has been determined to be one of the most powerful cancer-inducing agents, even in low doses.

In Nicaragua, where DBCP use has also been widespread, 67% of male banana workers are sterile, while 33% of female banana workers have uterus or breast cancer. Other workers suffer from cancer of the testicles, stomach, and kidneys.

Costa Rica ranks far ahead of any country in the world in its use of pesticides – more than double number two Colombia, according to rankings by the World Resources Institute. 

Source: insidecostarica.com

Publication date: 4/2/2014


FreshPlaza.com

US (CA): Dry season hasn’t affected Valencia crop

US (CA): Dry season hasn’t affected Valencia crop

The latest forecast for California’s Valencia orange crop shows that dry weather has not negatively impacted production this season.

California’s growers are expected to grow 24 million cartons of Valencia oranges this year, according to the 2013-2014 Valencia orange objective measurement report put out by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. That figure puts this season roughly on par with production from the previous two seasons, which were both at 25 million cartons.

The report noted that production, as well as average fruit size and set per tree, has not been negatively impacted despite dry conditions this year and a freeze in December. In fact, average fruit set per tree was estimated to be 616, which is above the five-year average of 603, and average March diameter was  2.571 inches, which is above the five-year average of 2.566 inches.

Publication date: 3/12/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Argentina: Melon production affected by the frosts

Argentina: Melon production affected by the frosts

The melon production came in late as some hectares were burned by the cold weather and the rest was planted very late. The sector lost an important market and the season’s best prices.

Almost all of this season’s Sarmiento’s novelty melon, which is harvested and sold in the beginning of December to the most important markets in the country, was lost due to late frosts that affected more than 25,000 acres of fruits and vegetables throughout the province. Sarmiento, a leading producer of melon, produces 70% of the novelty varieties most affected by the frost. The producers who had planted the fruit during the beginning of September lost their plants to the frosts, and those who had decided to wait, because of the weather forecasts, lost a month’s work, which in turn made the fruit lose its novelty factor.

Since the novelty melon fetches top prices due to it being one of the first on the market, the economic impact was also high, however, there are no estimated figures of the sector’s economic losses. “Producers from Sarmiento tend to grow the novelty melon because it leaves the best profit margin. 70% of them are planting the novelty melon here,” said Pedro Mestre, director of Produccion de Sarmiento.

Each season, San Juan produces some 5 million melons of different commercial qualities. Due to the late production this year, their melons will have to compete with other production areas such as Mendoza and La Rioja once they hit the markets this week.

Guillermo Videla, from the Association of Small Melon Producers in Tres Esquinas, said that he hadn’t been affected by the cold because he had decided to plant later, but that the producers who had planted earlier had lost their crops to the frosts had reseeded their plantations after the frost. “I’m about to harvest now which is unusual, I would have harvested novelty melons on the first days of December normally. People who lost their crops had to replant and make further investments.” said the producer.

Source: Tiempodesanjuan.com

Publication date: 1/3/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Barley crops affected by disease found on common wild grass

Oct. 16, 2013 — A major fungal pathogen which affects barley crops is also present on a common wild grass according to a new study by leading agricultural researchers including the University of Hertfordshire.

Barley is the second most important cereal crop grown in the UK — used as animal fodder, in human foods such as health foods, soups and stews, and also in the drinks production industry. High quality malting barley underpins beer and whisky production and is worth around £20 billion to the UK economy. However, barley is susceptible to a number of diseases, the most important of which is called leaf blotch and is caused by a fungal pathogen. This disease affects the leaves, ears and stems of the barley — decreasing grain quality and reducing crop yields by up to forty per cent.

Bruce Fitt, professor of plant pathology at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Crops that appear to be clear of disease can suddenly develop leaf blotch symptoms unexpectedly. The source of the disease is unclear and this has puzzled farmers and researchers alike.

“However, our research shows that the fungal pathogen that causes barley leaf blotch can be found on wild ryegrasses which are common both as weeds within cereal crop fields and in the surrounding field margins.”

In the study, both DNA and plant testing showed that the leaf blotch pathogen that affects barley can be found on the wild grasses and was virulent on commonly grown varieties of barley.

Professor Fitt continued: “Field margins play an important role in creating areas of habitat to support wildlife and wild plants species. But the increasing demand for agricultural land to provide enough crops to feed and support the growing population is putting pressure on these little pockets of wild nature.

“And if this pathogen species can be spread from wild grasses onto barley crops and back again, further investigation is needed to identify how widespread this species is and also the role that wild grasses play as sources of disease for other crops such as wheat.”

The paper, “Evolutionary Relationships Between Rhynchosporium lolii sp. nov. and Other Rhynchosporium Species on Grasses” is published in PLOS ON . Co-authors are Kevin King (Rothamsted Research), Jon West (Rothamsted Research), Patrick Brunner (ETH Zürich), Paul Dyer (University of Nottingham) and Bruce Fitt (University of Hertfordshire). The research project was funded by the Perry Foundation.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Barley crops affected by disease found on common wild grass

Oct. 16, 2013 — A major fungal pathogen which affects barley crops is also present on a common wild grass according to a new study by leading agricultural researchers including the University of Hertfordshire.

Barley is the second most important cereal crop grown in the UK — used as animal fodder, in human foods such as health foods, soups and stews, and also in the drinks production industry. High quality malting barley underpins beer and whisky production and is worth around £20 billion to the UK economy. However, barley is susceptible to a number of diseases, the most important of which is called leaf blotch and is caused by a fungal pathogen. This disease affects the leaves, ears and stems of the barley — decreasing grain quality and reducing crop yields by up to forty per cent.

Bruce Fitt, professor of plant pathology at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Crops that appear to be clear of disease can suddenly develop leaf blotch symptoms unexpectedly. The source of the disease is unclear and this has puzzled farmers and researchers alike.

“However, our research shows that the fungal pathogen that causes barley leaf blotch can be found on wild ryegrasses which are common both as weeds within cereal crop fields and in the surrounding field margins.”

In the study, both DNA and plant testing showed that the leaf blotch pathogen that affects barley can be found on the wild grasses and was virulent on commonly grown varieties of barley.

Professor Fitt continued: “Field margins play an important role in creating areas of habitat to support wildlife and wild plants species. But the increasing demand for agricultural land to provide enough crops to feed and support the growing population is putting pressure on these little pockets of wild nature.

“And if this pathogen species can be spread from wild grasses onto barley crops and back again, further investigation is needed to identify how widespread this species is and also the role that wild grasses play as sources of disease for other crops such as wheat.”

The paper, “Evolutionary Relationships Between Rhynchosporium lolii sp. nov. and Other Rhynchosporium Species on Grasses” is published in PLOS ON . Co-authors are Kevin King (Rothamsted Research), Jon West (Rothamsted Research), Patrick Brunner (ETH Zürich), Paul Dyer (University of Nottingham) and Bruce Fitt (University of Hertfordshire). The research project was funded by the Perry Foundation.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Argentina: “80% of cherry plantations affected by frosts”

Alberto Carleti is one of the most important cherry producers and exporters of Valle de Uco, in the province of Mendoza, Argentina, and a member of the board of Mendoza’s Cherry Commission. In his opinion, the acreage for cherry cultivation will continue to drop. He also pointed out that the region’s yield has fallen, which is bad news for the sector. 

- How is the cherry season shaping up after the frosts?


- The worst problem we have to face today is the damage caused by these frosts, which is sadly quite significant. 80% of cherry plantations have been affected.

We can only wait for the next phenological stage of the plant, which is the settling, to have more precise information. Cherries, by nature, have a low settling rate, despite an intense flowering. If we bear in mind that very few flowers are still healthy, prospects are not good.

How many kilos may have been lost?


- It is difficult to make an estimate in kilos, but if we bear in mind that the province usually harvests between 6,500 and 7,000 tonnes per season and we expect 80% of that to be lost, you can easily imagine.

How many people will lose their jobs because of this situation?


- This problem affects the entire stone fruit sector and is already being studied with concern. As a whole, the reduction in the workforce will be noticeable. We are already talking to the authorities about the social impact this will have.

These activities not only require intensive labour, but also raw goods and materials that will no longer be needed. We understand that the social impact is a cause for concern, mainly in the area of Valle de Uco, where trade also depends on fruit production.

Last season, prices were relatively good. Why has the acreage been reduced?


- Last season, cherry prices improved as a result of Argentina and Chile’s lower production volumes; with normal volumes, the expected market prices would return.

This year, the losses for fruit growers in Chile have been huge. There is so little left that it will not cover the production costs.

Mendoza went from being the number one cherry exporter to just the fourth, why is this?

- Firstly, due to the lack of technological innovation, as this requires high levels of investment. Many cherry plantations were also eradicated and replaced by building projects, as in the area of Maipú, or converted for other crops.

Cherries require specialisation and large investments, and because of the lack of experience in the province, many of these investments are based on trial and error. Thus, producers do away with cherries and plant grapes. The production costs for a hectare of cherries reach between 30,000 and 35,000 pesos.

Compared to other areas, has the yield dropped?

- In Mendona, the production per hectare generally reaches 4,000 to 6,000 kilos. In the area of Valle de Uco, the average would be of 8,000 to 12,000 kilos per hectare. Meanwhile, in the High Valley of Rio Negro, which has better technology and a selection of high-yield varieties, we could be talking 12,000 to 18,000 kilos per hectare.

Will the activity recover in the medium term? 


- In my opinion, Mendoza will continue losing acreage for cherry plantations. The region has been hit hard by these frosts and crops will most likely continue being abandoned.

(1 Argentinian Peso = 0,17 US$ )

Source: Losandes.com.ar

FreshPlaza.com

Food Lion donates $500,000 to support families affected by government shutdown

In response to North Carolina’s announcement that it will temporarily suspend benefits under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children Program because of the federal government shutdown, Food Lion made a $ 500,000 donation to food banks across the state to support citizens who need food assistance to feed their families.

“Food Lion is pleased to take a leading role across the state in providing critical funding to North Carolina food banks that will begin to receive increased requests in the coming weeks,” Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Food Lion, said in a press release. “In North Carolina, one in four children face hunger each day, and parents are forced to make difficult decisions, like buying formula or paying rent, to provide their children with the nutrition they need. We’re hopeful that today’s donation helps families to make fewer of those tough choices, particularly during this time.”

The gift cards, which are in $ 5 increments, will be distributed to food banks in Asheville, Charlotte, Elizabeth City, Fayetteville, Raleigh and Winston-Salem that serve counties throughout the state.

“On behalf of the seven food banks in North Carolina, we are overwhelmed with the generosity of Food Lion’s donation,” said Kay Carter, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and board chair of the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks. “We are grateful for this donation, which comes at a critical time as we struggle to find ways to bridge the gap of hunger and continue putting food on the table for the families we serve.”

Food Lion works to end hunger and food insecurity in the communities it serves, the company stated in a press release.

Food Lion gift cards will arrive at the food banks over the next two days. Food banks will distribute them to partner agencies and constituents in the next several weeks, or purchase critical food needed for the food bank. The gift cards can be used in any Food Lion store. Gift cards cannot be redeemed for purchases of alcohol or cigarettes.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Chobani Recalls Yogurt Cups Affected by Mold

Chobani is recalling a portion of its Greek-style yogurt cups affected by a common mold.

For more than a week, Chobani customers have complained of bloated cups and foul-smelling or off-tasting yogurt, which Chobani blamed on “isolated quality concerns.”

Although the company originally began a voluntary withdrawal of the affected products, some claims of illness prompted Chobani to switch to a voluntary recall.

The affected products bear the code “16-012″ on their foil covers and have expiration dates between Sept. 11, 2013, and Oct. 7, 2013. Chobani says consumers who have purchased the product should discard it and contact their Customer Loyalty Team for a replacement or refund.

According to Chobani, the product in question comprises less than five percent of the company’s production and is limited to cups produced at their Idaho facility, which accounts for one-third of the company’s production capacity, and that over 95 percent of the products in question have already been identified and removed from retailer shelves.

Food Safety News