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Superfresh Growers expects large sized apples and pears for new crop year

Yakima, WA- July 15, 2016 Domex Superfresh Growers is gearing up for new crop northwest apples and pears. They expect a promotable crop of large sized, flavorful fruit, thanks to optimal spring and summer growing conditions.

“Cell division has been terrific, due to another early bloom and moderate spring and summer temperatures,” says Mike Preacher, director of marketing and customer relations for Domex Superfresh Growers. “We expect apples to peak on 88-count and larger, and D’anjou pears will peak on larger sizes this season. Additionally, we expect the fruit to have good color and flavor. All of this means great sales opportunities for retailers, and great eating experiences for customers.”

“With large sizes on the horizon, retailers should also consider adding or moving to five pound bags,” Preacher said.

Bartlett pear harvest is expected to begin the last week of July, and apple harvest will start the first week of August.

The timing of this year’s crop is early, similar to last season. “This allows for Labor Day and Back-to-School promotions of apples and pears,” says Preacher. He added that “with the northwest cherry crop potentially ending a couple weeks earlier than normal, apples and pears will make a great choice for filling promotional space.”

Domex Superfresh Growers is a leading grower and shipper of both conventional and organic apples, pears, cherries and apricots from the Pacific Northwest.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

SweeTango crop continues to grow with 18 percent increase over 2015

Members of the Next Big Thing Growers’ Cooperative, a 45-member cooperative of family growers headquartered in Lake City, MN, released their estimates for the 2016 crop of SweeTango, the apple that was developed by the University of Minnesota to feature the best characteristics of the Honeycrisp and Zestar! apple varieties.sweetang

The projected crop yield is 450,000 standard 40-pound boxes, which is an 18 percent increase over last year’s crop of 380,000 and 9 percent larger than the 2014 harvest of 413,000 boxes.

Preliminary projections estimated a yield of 465,000 boxes for 2016, however severe storms on July 8 in northern Michigan produced hail up to two inches in diameter that caused extensive damage to the crop in that region, thereby reducing the overall estimate. Other growing regions across the United States and Canada have not been adversely affected by weather to date.

The timing of the harvest varies by growing region, as orchards are spread across differing climates in locations like Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York and Nova Scotia. Washington will begin harvest first in early August, which means SweeTango will start appearing in the market around Labor Day.

As the SweeTango apple crop has continued to grow over the past decade, so does the length of the season. Once a hyper-seasonal fruit due to limited yields from a relatively small number of young orchards, SweeTango’s season is now expected to extend from early September to late December. This is great news for SweeTango’s enthusiastic and loyal consumer following.

Theron Kibbe, executive director of Next Big Thing Growers’ Cooperative noted, “We are looking forward to a good size SweeTango crop of excellent quality, with sizes that retailers are successful with. We have a robust marketing program in place that will drive shoppers to stores with SweeTango apples on their lists. We also will be partnering with retailers with in-store activities designed to increase trial and introduce new shoppers to SweeTango’s tangy-sweet flavor and exceptional crunch.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Genomic atlas of gene switches in plants provides roadmap for crop research

June 30, 2013 — What allows certain plants to survive freezing and thrive in the Canadian climate, while others are sensitive to the slightest drop in temperature? Those that flourish activate specific genes at just the right time — but the way gene activation is controlled remains poorly understood.

A major step forward in understanding this process lies in a genomic map produced by an international consortium led by scientists from McGill University and the University of Toronto and published online today in the journal Nature Genetics.

The map, which is the first of its kind for plants, will help scientists to localize regulatory regions in the genomes of crop species such as canola, a major crop in Canada, according to researchers who worked on the project. The team has sequenced the genomes of several crucifers (a large plant family that includes a number of other food crops) and analyzed them along with previously published genomes to map more than 90,000 genomic regions that have been highly conserved but that do not appear to encode proteins.

“These regions are likely to play important roles in turning genes on or off, for example to regulate a plant’s development or its response to environmental conditions,” says McGill computer-science professor Mathieu Blanchette, one of the leaders of the study. Work is currently underway to identify which of those regions may be involved in controlling traits of particular importance to farmers.

The study also weighs in on a major debate among biologists, concerning how much of an organism’s genome has important functions in a cell, and how much is “junk DNA,” merely along for the ride. While stretches of the genome that code for proteins are relatively easy to identify, many other ‘noncoding’ regions may be important for regulating genes, activating them in the right tissue and under the right conditions.

While humans and plants have very similar numbers of protein-coding genes, the map published in Nature Genetics further suggests that the regulatory sequences controlling plant genes are far simpler, with a level of complexity between that of fungi and microscopic worms. “These findings suggest that the complexity of different organisms arises not so much from what genes they contain, but how they turn them on and off,” says McGill biology professor Thomas Bureau, a co-author of the paper.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

California citrus crop escapes frost damage

The much-feared devastating freezing temperatures didn’t quite materialize in California’s San Joaquin Valley over the last few nights, and consequently the California citrus crop experienced little damage.

Below-freezing temperatures did prevail for several nights, necessitating the use of frost-protection tools, but the needle didn’t drop low enough or the cold hang around long enough to produce serious damage.

For damage to occur to Mandarin oranges on the tree, temperatures need to stay below 32 degrees for at least four hours. Navel oranges, with their thicker skin, typically don’t experience much damage until temperatures drop to the mid-20s for that four-hour threshold.

Many citrus-growing areas did see temperatures drop into the 20s but only for short periods of time. And most growers were able to use wind machines and irrigation systems to raised grove temperatures a few degrees during critical periods.

On the morning of Jan. 1, California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said that growers had survived what ended up being the worst of the nights.

“Growers initiated frost protection by 10 p.m. (the night before) in most cases,” he said. “No doubt the early start helped keep temperatures higher throughout the night and with lows not reaching 26 degrees, except in the coldest unprotected areas, we conclude it was a long night but a safe night.”

He added that producers of Mandarins and lemons ran their equipment for about 10 hours that night, with Navel orange growers needing about six hours of frost-protection action.

Some of the areas that typically get the coldest have already been harvested.

“Thirty days makes a difference,” Nelsen said. “Last season a major freeze event occurred the first week of December, thereby creating much more vulnerability for the industry. The past 30 days significant tonnage was harvested from those historic areas of low temperatures, thereby eliminating potential loss.”

The lower cost of fuel this year also helped in the battle as the cost of running the wind machines was considerably less than a year ago.

As the new year dawned, warmer temperatures were in the forecast for the next week and citrus harvest and packing operations were expected to return to normal levels.

The crop estimate for the 2014-15 Navel orange season is 78 million cartons in the San Joaquin Valley and another 5 million cartons in Southern California. Approximately 25 percent of the orange crop has been harvested.

Mandarin tonnage is estimated to be 50 million five-pound cartons this year and approximately 70 percent of the crop remains on the tree.

The California lemon crop has been estimated at 45 million cartons with the vast majority of the lemon tonnage in Ventura County and still on the tree.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

California citrus crop escapes frost damage

The much-feared devastating freezing temperatures didn’t quite materialize in California’s San Joaquin Valley over the last few nights, and consequently the California citrus crop experienced little damage.

Below-freezing temperatures did prevail for several nights, necessitating the use of frost-protection tools, but the needle didn’t drop low enough or the cold hang around long enough to produce serious damage.

For damage to occur to Mandarin oranges on the tree, temperatures need to stay below 32 degrees for at least four hours. Navel oranges, with their thicker skin, typically don’t experience much damage until temperatures drop to the mid-20s for that four-hour threshold.

Many citrus-growing areas did see temperatures drop into the 20s but only for short periods of time. And most growers were able to use wind machines and irrigation systems to raised grove temperatures a few degrees during critical periods.

On the morning of Jan. 1, California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said that growers had survived what ended up being the worst of the nights.

“Growers initiated frost protection by 10 p.m. (the night before) in most cases,” he said. “No doubt the early start helped keep temperatures higher throughout the night and with lows not reaching 26 degrees, except in the coldest unprotected areas, we conclude it was a long night but a safe night.”

He added that producers of Mandarins and lemons ran their equipment for about 10 hours that night, with Navel orange growers needing about six hours of frost-protection action.

Some of the areas that typically get the coldest have already been harvested.

“Thirty days makes a difference,” Nelsen said. “Last season a major freeze event occurred the first week of December, thereby creating much more vulnerability for the industry. The past 30 days significant tonnage was harvested from those historic areas of low temperatures, thereby eliminating potential loss.”

The lower cost of fuel this year also helped in the battle as the cost of running the wind machines was considerably less than a year ago.

As the new year dawned, warmer temperatures were in the forecast for the next week and citrus harvest and packing operations were expected to return to normal levels.

The crop estimate for the 2014-15 Navel orange season is 78 million cartons in the San Joaquin Valley and another 5 million cartons in Southern California. Approximately 25 percent of the orange crop has been harvested.

Mandarin tonnage is estimated to be 50 million five-pound cartons this year and approximately 70 percent of the crop remains on the tree.

The California lemon crop has been estimated at 45 million cartons with the vast majority of the lemon tonnage in Ventura County and still on the tree.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

California citrus crop escapes frost damage

The much-feared devastating freezing temperatures didn’t quite materialize in California’s San Joaquin Valley over the last few nights, and consequently the California citrus crop experienced little damage.

Below-freezing temperatures did prevail for several nights, necessitating the use of frost-protection tools, but the needle didn’t drop low enough or the cold hang around long enough to produce serious damage.

For damage to occur to Mandarin oranges on the tree, temperatures need to stay below 32 degrees for at least four hours. Navel oranges, with their thicker skin, typically don’t experience much damage until temperatures drop to the mid-20s for that four-hour threshold.

Many citrus-growing areas did see temperatures drop into the 20s but only for short periods of time. And most growers were able to use wind machines and irrigation systems to raised grove temperatures a few degrees during critical periods.

On the morning of Jan. 1, California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said that growers had survived what ended up being the worst of the nights.

“Growers initiated frost protection by 10 p.m. (the night before) in most cases,” he said. “No doubt the early start helped keep temperatures higher throughout the night and with lows not reaching 26 degrees, except in the coldest unprotected areas, we conclude it was a long night but a safe night.”

He added that producers of Mandarins and lemons ran their equipment for about 10 hours that night, with Navel orange growers needing about six hours of frost-protection action.

Some of the areas that typically get the coldest have already been harvested.

“Thirty days makes a difference,” Nelsen said. “Last season a major freeze event occurred the first week of December, thereby creating much more vulnerability for the industry. The past 30 days significant tonnage was harvested from those historic areas of low temperatures, thereby eliminating potential loss.”

The lower cost of fuel this year also helped in the battle as the cost of running the wind machines was considerably less than a year ago.

As the new year dawned, warmer temperatures were in the forecast for the next week and citrus harvest and packing operations were expected to return to normal levels.

The crop estimate for the 2014-15 Navel orange season is 78 million cartons in the San Joaquin Valley and another 5 million cartons in Southern California. Approximately 25 percent of the orange crop has been harvested.

Mandarin tonnage is estimated to be 50 million five-pound cartons this year and approximately 70 percent of the crop remains on the tree.

The California lemon crop has been estimated at 45 million cartons with the vast majority of the lemon tonnage in Ventura County and still on the tree.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Carolinas receive nearly $2 million in specialty crop grants

North and South Carolina farmers trying to combat pests and diseases attacking their blueberries, sweet potatoes and other specialty crops are getting help from the federal government. The U.S. Agriculture Department has provided nearly $ 2 million for a total of 35 programs in the Tar Heel and Palmetto states to research or promote home-grown fruits, vegetables and nursery plants.

The money will go to universities, local agencies and nonprofit organizations.SPECIALTY-GRANTS11213-SWEET-POTATOESGrowers of sweet potatoes, North Carolina’s number one produce crop, would benefit from a specialty crop grant project to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina. It’s part of a $ 118 million national effort funded by the farm bill approved earlier this year. Its goal is to boost specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. North Carolina received $ 1.175 million for 15 projects; South Carolina received about $ 602,000 for 20 projects.

North Carolina projects include assistance to specialty crop growers through a partnership with the Carolinas Farm Stewardship Association to develop a food-safety support program and to establish community-based, sustainable food-safety systems. And in a second project with the Farm Stewardship group, offer specialty crop producers seeking to take advantage of the high-value market for organic produce by helping them transition to certified-organic production.

Other North Carolina projects include a partnership with North Carolina State University to identify, collect, virus-test and propagate old and new cultivars in order to provide growers with a reliable source of productive muscadine grape plants and to establish baselines for an integrated pest management program to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina.

South Carolina projects include partnering with the South Carolina Fruit, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Association to increase the visibility of the state’s specialty crops by rebranding the association and refocusing its media presence. Also, in cooperation with Lowcountry Local First, to increase the number of consumers eating specialty crops and increase the number of specialty crop growers by promoting the Growing New Farmers program.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the South Carolina Watermelon Association, will seek to increase the consumption of watermelon by providing education regarding its health benefits while promoting the South Carolina watermelon industry to retailers, wholesalers and the public through an extensive industry spokesperson program. Also, in cooperation with Clemson University, to develop a larger peach by using a wide and diverse set of germ plasm to accumulate many traits together into a single cultivar and distribute these findings to producers.

Also, in cooperation with the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture will try to create a stronger rural economy by increasing the volume of specialty crops distributed through local food hubs and managing the greater number of specialty crop farmers participating in the food hubs.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Carolinas receive nearly $2 million in specialty crop grants

North and South Carolina farmers trying to combat pests and diseases attacking their blueberries, sweet potatoes and other specialty crops are getting help from the federal government. The U.S. Agriculture Department has provided nearly $ 2 million for a total of 35 programs in the Tar Heel and Palmetto states to research or promote home-grown fruits, vegetables and nursery plants.

The money will go to universities, local agencies and nonprofit organizations.SPECIALTY-GRANTS11213-SWEET-POTATOESGrowers of sweet potatoes, North Carolina’s number one produce crop, would benefit from a specialty crop grant project to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina. It’s part of a $ 118 million national effort funded by the farm bill approved earlier this year. Its goal is to boost specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. North Carolina received $ 1.175 million for 15 projects; South Carolina received about $ 602,000 for 20 projects.

North Carolina projects include assistance to specialty crop growers through a partnership with the Carolinas Farm Stewardship Association to develop a food-safety support program and to establish community-based, sustainable food-safety systems. And in a second project with the Farm Stewardship group, offer specialty crop producers seeking to take advantage of the high-value market for organic produce by helping them transition to certified-organic production.

Other North Carolina projects include a partnership with North Carolina State University to identify, collect, virus-test and propagate old and new cultivars in order to provide growers with a reliable source of productive muscadine grape plants and to establish baselines for an integrated pest management program to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina.

South Carolina projects include partnering with the South Carolina Fruit, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Association to increase the visibility of the state’s specialty crops by rebranding the association and refocusing its media presence. Also, in cooperation with Lowcountry Local First, to increase the number of consumers eating specialty crops and increase the number of specialty crop growers by promoting the Growing New Farmers program.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the South Carolina Watermelon Association, will seek to increase the consumption of watermelon by providing education regarding its health benefits while promoting the South Carolina watermelon industry to retailers, wholesalers and the public through an extensive industry spokesperson program. Also, in cooperation with Clemson University, to develop a larger peach by using a wide and diverse set of germ plasm to accumulate many traits together into a single cultivar and distribute these findings to producers.

Also, in cooperation with the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture will try to create a stronger rural economy by increasing the volume of specialty crops distributed through local food hubs and managing the greater number of specialty crop farmers participating in the food hubs.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

S.C. peach crop finishes strong, close to 2013 production totals

COLUMBIA, SC — Despite an early freeze that killed an estimated 20 percent of the 2014 peach crop, production finished strong and managed to pull within shouting distance of last year’s harvest. Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for peaches at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture here, said final totals, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in mid-September, were 2,290 truckloads, compared to 2,320 in 2013.

“One thing we can’t control is the weather,” Cornwell said. “But the strong finish to the season meant that growers were able to fill orders and retailers were able to get high-quality product.SC-PEACHES11214This Harris Teeter store in downtown Charleston, SC, featured ‘fresh off the farm’ locally grown peaches in August. That bodes well for next year.” South Carolina peach growers, who usually rank second in the nation in peach production, behind California, have proven over the past few years that they can meet volume demands of supermarkets and other mass-market retailers, he added.  

Peach growers over the years have diversified, noted Martin Eubanks, assistant commissioner for agricultural services, so they are not dependent on a single crop of peaches. Many peach growers have now turned to harvesting greens, he said. Also, he added, when weather conditions are not off-the-scale, growers can save peach crops in near-freezing weather with blowers, smoke pots and even helicopters. “We had several bad spells of weather in 2014; another degree or two colder, our entire crop could have been lost,” he added.

Fir 2015, peach promotions will include a South Carolina Peach Council-sponsored Peach Day at the State Farmers’ Market in Columbia, Cornwell said, along with a fund-raising auction for the council in late March or early April in the Myrtle Beach, SC, area. Other materials and activities for retailers and consumers are on the drawing board, he noted.

“Right now, peach growers are doing their game planning for the year,” Cornwell observed. He said he had spoken with Lynne Chappell of Chappell Farms, a fifth-generation family peach grower in Kline, SC,  Dec. 19 and she recounted that they are “currently pruning, getting ready to fertilize in January, and as her father Pat Chappell said, ‘enjoying good peach weather in December.’”

Value-added processing makes South Carolina peaches a year-round item, with some growers providing peach puree to craft brewers making peach beer and brandy, others packing sliced frozen peaches in puree, as well as peaches for ice cream sold to dairies, and peach menu items for restaurants and foodservice operations. Value-added products have steadily increased, Cornwell said, along with growers adding organic peaches to their offerings.  

For 2015, Cornwell said, “Demand for South Carolina peaches is growing, and the state has a natural advantage in that the soil and climate are ideal for peaches. Because of our location, we are one of the first states to have peaches on the market, and we can reach the major population centers of the East Coast and Midwest. The outlook for 2015, weather permitting, is good.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

S.C. peach crop finishes strong, close to 2013 production totals

COLUMBIA, SC — Despite an early freeze that killed an estimated 20 percent of the 2014 peach crop, production finished strong and managed to pull within shouting distance of last year’s harvest. Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for peaches at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture here, said final totals, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in mid-September, were 2,290 truckloads, compared to 2,320 in 2013.

“One thing we can’t control is the weather,” Cornwell said. “But the strong finish to the season meant that growers were able to fill orders and retailers were able to get high-quality product.SC-PEACHES11214This Harris Teeter store in downtown Charleston, SC, featured ‘fresh off the farm’ locally grown peaches in August. That bodes well for next year.” South Carolina peach growers, who usually rank second in the nation in peach production, behind California, have proven over the past few years that they can meet volume demands of supermarkets and other mass-market retailers, he added.  

Peach growers over the years have diversified, noted Martin Eubanks, assistant commissioner for agricultural services, so they are not dependent on a single crop of peaches. Many peach growers have now turned to harvesting greens, he said. Also, he added, when weather conditions are not off-the-scale, growers can save peach crops in near-freezing weather with blowers, smoke pots and even helicopters. “We had several bad spells of weather in 2014; another degree or two colder, our entire crop could have been lost,” he added.

Fir 2015, peach promotions will include a South Carolina Peach Council-sponsored Peach Day at the State Farmers’ Market in Columbia, Cornwell said, along with a fund-raising auction for the council in late March or early April in the Myrtle Beach, SC, area. Other materials and activities for retailers and consumers are on the drawing board, he noted.

“Right now, peach growers are doing their game planning for the year,” Cornwell observed. He said he had spoken with Lynne Chappell of Chappell Farms, a fifth-generation family peach grower in Kline, SC,  Dec. 19 and she recounted that they are “currently pruning, getting ready to fertilize in January, and as her father Pat Chappell said, ‘enjoying good peach weather in December.’”

Value-added processing makes South Carolina peaches a year-round item, with some growers providing peach puree to craft brewers making peach beer and brandy, others packing sliced frozen peaches in puree, as well as peaches for ice cream sold to dairies, and peach menu items for restaurants and foodservice operations. Value-added products have steadily increased, Cornwell said, along with growers adding organic peaches to their offerings.  

For 2015, Cornwell said, “Demand for South Carolina peaches is growing, and the state has a natural advantage in that the soil and climate are ideal for peaches. Because of our location, we are one of the first states to have peaches on the market, and we can reach the major population centers of the East Coast and Midwest. The outlook for 2015, weather permitting, is good.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

S.C. peach crop finishes strong, close to 2013 production totals

COLUMBIA, SC — Despite an early freeze that killed an estimated 20 percent of the 2014 peach crop, production finished strong and managed to pull within shouting distance of last year’s harvest. Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for peaches at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture here, said final totals, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in mid-September, were 2,290 truckloads, compared to 2,320 in 2013.

“One thing we can’t control is the weather,” Cornwell said. “But the strong finish to the season meant that growers were able to fill orders and retailers were able to get high-quality product.SC-PEACHES11214This Harris Teeter store in downtown Charleston, SC, featured ‘fresh off the farm’ locally grown peaches in August. That bodes well for next year.” South Carolina peach growers, who usually rank second in the nation in peach production, behind California, have proven over the past few years that they can meet volume demands of supermarkets and other mass-market retailers, he added.  

Peach growers over the years have diversified, noted Martin Eubanks, assistant commissioner for agricultural services, so they are not dependent on a single crop of peaches. Many peach growers have now turned to harvesting greens, he said. Also, he added, when weather conditions are not off-the-scale, growers can save peach crops in near-freezing weather with blowers, smoke pots and even helicopters. “We had several bad spells of weather in 2014; another degree or two colder, our entire crop could have been lost,” he added.

Fir 2015, peach promotions will include a South Carolina Peach Council-sponsored Peach Day at the State Farmers’ Market in Columbia, Cornwell said, along with a fund-raising auction for the council in late March or early April in the Myrtle Beach, SC, area. Other materials and activities for retailers and consumers are on the drawing board, he noted.

“Right now, peach growers are doing their game planning for the year,” Cornwell observed. He said he had spoken with Lynne Chappell of Chappell Farms, a fifth-generation family peach grower in Kline, SC,  Dec. 19 and she recounted that they are “currently pruning, getting ready to fertilize in January, and as her father Pat Chappell said, ‘enjoying good peach weather in December.’”

Value-added processing makes South Carolina peaches a year-round item, with some growers providing peach puree to craft brewers making peach beer and brandy, others packing sliced frozen peaches in puree, as well as peaches for ice cream sold to dairies, and peach menu items for restaurants and foodservice operations. Value-added products have steadily increased, Cornwell said, along with growers adding organic peaches to their offerings.  

For 2015, Cornwell said, “Demand for South Carolina peaches is growing, and the state has a natural advantage in that the soil and climate are ideal for peaches. Because of our location, we are one of the first states to have peaches on the market, and we can reach the major population centers of the East Coast and Midwest. The outlook for 2015, weather permitting, is good.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

USApple reporting 2014 apple crop is one of the largest on record

On Dec. 1, this year’s fresh apple holdings totaled 122.2 million bushels, a 16 percent increase from the same time last year, according to the December 2014 edition of the U.S. Apple Association’s Market News.

“Processing holdings totaled 44.6 million bushels, 3 percent above last year on Dec. 1,” said Mark W. Seetin, director, regulatory and industry affairs for the U.S. Apple Association. “The total number of apples in storage on Dec. 1 was 166.8 million bushels, 12 percent above last December’s total.”P1040068-copyPink Lady apples. (Photo by Christina DiMartino)

He added that the 2014 U.S. crop looks to be one of the largest on record, with the highest quality apples harvested in several years.

“Fresh apple supplies are quite ample, and demand has been especially strong,” said Seetin. “The December Market News reports that apples are moving to the marketplace at a record pace as of early December.”

USApple’s overview of the industry reports that the U.S. has approximately 7,500 apple producers who grow nearly 200 varieties of apples on approximately 328,000 acres.

The 2013 crop estimate, at 248.6 million bushels, was the 10th-largest apple crop since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began keeping statistics on commercial apple production. The total farm-gate revenue, or wholesale value, of the U.S. apple crop is more than $ 2.7 billion each year.

Excitement is quickly and strongly brewing in other USApple news as well. In a Dec. 5 press release titled “Apple industry unites to increase sales,” Suzanne Wolter, chair of USApple’s consumer health education and public relations committee, said that during the 2014 winter season, U.S. Apple Association and participating members were working to support apple sales by conducting joint retail communications and consumer education programs that share the same themes with their respective audiences at the same time.

“There is great opportunity here for us to deepen the impact we make with media and consumers alike by joining efforts,” said Wolter. “Right now we have not only the right team to implement these types of programs, but also the industry enthusiasm and support to make them a success.”

From Dec. 1 through early spring, USApple and select members are holding monthly public relations and social media outreach initiatives to reach online fans and media. The efforts are aimed at attracting greater consumer attention with consistent and timely messages and images.

“Consumer news media and social media are increasingly busy, cluttered places to connect with consumers, particularly during the holiday season,” Wendy Brannen, director of consumer health and public relations for USApple, stated in the release. “By conducting joint communications campaigns in which much of the apple industry, including producers, processors and retailers, are presenting the same content at the same time, we’re better able to break through to consumers with important, helpful messages that will ideally translate to increased apple sales.”

The December program focused on encouraging consumers to “share the health” during the holiday season with do-it-yourself apple gifts, including homemade gift baskets, butters and jams, with apples as the healthy, accessible and affordable center ingredient. Members will be sharing similar posts and professionally styled photography on their social and digital channels and pitching consistent messages and materials to their respective target consumer media.

“USApple’s offer of a social media themed toolbox that individuals can use and to adapt to their own use will help us to reach our goal of seeing between 15 and 30 social media sites all post very similar themes,” added Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association in Fishers, NY, which is participating in the campaign. “If we reach that goal it will create a ground swell of activity.”

“It’s an awesome tool,” he continued. “The New York Apple Association has posted a video on our website, nyapplecountry.com, and on Facebook at facebook.com/nyapples.”

On Dec. 11, Julia Stewart, spokesperson for NYAA added, “Our Facebook post of our video showing consumers how to assemble simple apple gift baskets has so far garnered more than 800 likes and reached over 110K, and still counting. Those are great numbers for a group our size.”

The plan for future campaigns is to focus on the benefits of resolving to eat two apples a day in January, and promoting apples’ heart health research during American Heart Month in February.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Oil palm: A modeled crop

Australian scientists have developed a model for oil palm cultivation, aimed at helping growers of the crop maximize the yields of their plantations, while minimizing detrimental environmental impacts.

The model was recently published in the journal Environmental Modeling & Software.

“Oil palm has become a major crop in the tropics, cultivated on more than 39 million acres of land,” co-author Dr Paul Nelson of James Cook University (JCU) said.

“Demand for the product continues to grow, and the industry is expected to keep expanding in the foreseeable future.

“At the same time, there is significant concern about the industry’s environmental impacts, with many purchasers wanting only certified sustainable palm oil.

“Given that this is one of the most important industries in the tropics, our aim is to contribute to a research-based approach to its management. Growers need information that will help them make decisions that are good for both productivity and the environment.”

The researchers built an oil palm system model, using the internationally recognized APSIM (Agricultural Production Systems Simulator) framework. The model is called APSIM Oil Palm.

“APSIM is the gold standard for simulating crop systems,” Dr Nelson said. “It enables the simulation of systems that cover a range of plant, animal, soil, climate and management interactions. APSIM is undergoing continual development and it’s underpinned by rigorous science and software engineering standards.

“By applying APSIM Oil Palm, producers will be able to evaluate effects of their soil type, climate and management on their water balance, nutrient balance, soil organic matter and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dr Nelson said agricultural systems modeling was often used in sustainability studies, along with field measurements.

“APSIM Oil Palm can be used in on-farm decision making and in assessing risk, yield forecasts and government policy, as well as providing a guide to research and education.”

“It’s a valuable tool which was not previously available to oil palm growers.

“Like any computer modeling exercise the outcome depends on good quality data, which has previously been a problem for many oil palm growing areas.

“For this study we used large data bases on soil and climate from three sites in Papua New Guinea. We plan to test its applicability in other areas as more localized information becomes available.

“This is a highly detailed model which involved simulating the growth of oil palm fronds, stems, roots and fruit bunches, and accounting for variations in soil, light, rainfall and temperature, ” Dr Nelson said.

“We did the work together with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the Papua New Guinea Oil Palm Research Association.”

The research was funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Earlier this month (2-4 December 2014) the model’s developers, including Dr Nelson, ran a workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia, to train 20 scientists from six countries in using the model.

It is hoped that the participants (12 from Indonesia, three from France, two from Colombia and one each from Liberia, Malaysia and Netherlands) will use and further develop the model to help improve sustainable production of this important crop.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by James Cook University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Jury convicts brothers in crop insurance case

Aaron and Derek Johnson, who farm potatoes near Grand Forks, ND, will be sentenced in federal court on March 9 following their conviction on felony counts of conspiracy and making false statements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency and law enforcement officials. A unanimous jury returned the guilty verdict in Fargo, ND, Dec. 11 after five hours of deliberation.

Tried as individuals, each brother could face up to 20 years prison time.

Aaron Johnson, age 50, and Derek Johnson, age 47, were accused of taking advantage of the federal government’s crop insurance program. At the time charges were filed, it was alleged that the brothers purposefully damaged their potato crops from 2002 to 2010. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the damage included the application of Rid-X to potatoes, use of warehouse heaters to hasten product deterioration, and addition of spoiled and frozen potatoes to stored product.

The brothers denied all charges in the case. In addition to the above charges, Aaron Johnson was also convicted of lying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

The jury reached its verdict after eight days of testimony. Although more than 20 people testified during the proceeding, the government’s key witness was Leo Borgen, who worked at the farm. Borgen is a convicted felon, currently serving time in Jamestown, ND, for an unrelated crime. He testified that he had firsthand knowledge of the brothers’ activities.

The federal crop insurance program helps farmers recover from natural disasters. Prosecutors said the brothers received payments of approximately $ 2 million for damaged crops. During the trial, other area potato farmers testified about the condition of their own crops during the time frame in question.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Jury convicts brothers in crop insurance case

Aaron and Derek Johnson, who farm potatoes near Grand Forks, ND, will be sentenced in federal court on March 9 following their conviction on felony counts of conspiracy and making false statements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency and law enforcement officials. A unanimous jury returned the guilty verdict in Fargo, ND, Dec. 11 after five hours of deliberation.

Tried as individuals, each brother could face up to 20 years prison time.

Aaron Johnson, age 50, and Derek Johnson, age 47, were accused of taking advantage of the federal government’s crop insurance program. At the time charges were filed, it was alleged that the brothers purposefully damaged their potato crops from 2002 to 2010. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the damage included the application of Rid-X to potatoes, use of warehouse heaters to hasten product deterioration, and addition of spoiled and frozen potatoes to stored product.

The brothers denied all charges in the case. In addition to the above charges, Aaron Johnson was also convicted of lying to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

The jury reached its verdict after eight days of testimony. Although more than 20 people testified during the proceeding, the government’s key witness was Leo Borgen, who worked at the farm. Borgen is a convicted felon, currently serving time in Jamestown, ND, for an unrelated crime. He testified that he had firsthand knowledge of the brothers’ activities.

The federal crop insurance program helps farmers recover from natural disasters. Prosecutors said the brothers received payments of approximately $ 2 million for damaged crops. During the trial, other area potato farmers testified about the condition of their own crops during the time frame in question.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Pear Bureau Northwest awarded specialty crop block grant

Pear Bureau Northwest was awarded $ 40,000 from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and $ 20,000 from the Washington State Department of Agriculture through the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant. The grant will enable the Pear Bureau Northwest to focus on “Putting Pears on the Menu: Increasing the use of Pears on National Chain Restaurants.”uspear

The Pear Bureau will educate foodservice decision makers on pear varieties, seasonality, storage and ripening through outreach activities targeting large restaurant chains. The increased demand of fresh pears in foodservice will help Northwest growers and shippers keep pace with a growing supply of high-quality fruit.

“This grant will help increase pear usage and awareness among consumers throughout the US.,” Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Studies show that nearly 40 percent of consumers who try a food in a restaurant will look to make it at home*, so expanding restaurant use of pears will expand retail purchases and home use as well.”

Under the 2014 farm bill, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Department of Agriculture receive annual funding from the USDA to award grants for projects that enhance the competitiveness of states’ specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.

*Foodservice and Influencers, national telephone survey of 1,000 primary shoppers conducted by Produce Marketing Association, May 2006.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Pear Bureau Northwest awarded specialty crop block grant

Pear Bureau Northwest was awarded $ 40,000 from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and $ 20,000 from the Washington State Department of Agriculture through the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant. The grant will enable the Pear Bureau Northwest to focus on “Putting Pears on the Menu: Increasing the use of Pears on National Chain Restaurants.”uspear

The Pear Bureau will educate foodservice decision makers on pear varieties, seasonality, storage and ripening through outreach activities targeting large restaurant chains. The increased demand of fresh pears in foodservice will help Northwest growers and shippers keep pace with a growing supply of high-quality fruit.

“This grant will help increase pear usage and awareness among consumers throughout the US.,” Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Studies show that nearly 40 percent of consumers who try a food in a restaurant will look to make it at home*, so expanding restaurant use of pears will expand retail purchases and home use as well.”

Under the 2014 farm bill, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Department of Agriculture receive annual funding from the USDA to award grants for projects that enhance the competitiveness of states’ specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.

*Foodservice and Influencers, national telephone survey of 1,000 primary shoppers conducted by Produce Marketing Association, May 2006.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Pear Bureau Northwest awarded specialty crop block grant

Pear Bureau Northwest was awarded $ 40,000 from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and $ 20,000 from the Washington State Department of Agriculture through the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant. The grant will enable the Pear Bureau Northwest to focus on “Putting Pears on the Menu: Increasing the use of Pears on National Chain Restaurants.”uspear

The Pear Bureau will educate foodservice decision makers on pear varieties, seasonality, storage and ripening through outreach activities targeting large restaurant chains. The increased demand of fresh pears in foodservice will help Northwest growers and shippers keep pace with a growing supply of high-quality fruit.

“This grant will help increase pear usage and awareness among consumers throughout the US.,” Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Studies show that nearly 40 percent of consumers who try a food in a restaurant will look to make it at home*, so expanding restaurant use of pears will expand retail purchases and home use as well.”

Under the 2014 farm bill, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Department of Agriculture receive annual funding from the USDA to award grants for projects that enhance the competitiveness of states’ specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.

*Foodservice and Influencers, national telephone survey of 1,000 primary shoppers conducted by Produce Marketing Association, May 2006.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Pear Bureau Northwest awarded specialty crop block grant

Pear Bureau Northwest was awarded $ 40,000 from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and $ 20,000 from the Washington State Department of Agriculture through the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant. The grant will enable the Pear Bureau Northwest to focus on “Putting Pears on the Menu: Increasing the use of Pears on National Chain Restaurants.”uspear

The Pear Bureau will educate foodservice decision makers on pear varieties, seasonality, storage and ripening through outreach activities targeting large restaurant chains. The increased demand of fresh pears in foodservice will help Northwest growers and shippers keep pace with a growing supply of high-quality fruit.

“This grant will help increase pear usage and awareness among consumers throughout the US.,” Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Studies show that nearly 40 percent of consumers who try a food in a restaurant will look to make it at home*, so expanding restaurant use of pears will expand retail purchases and home use as well.”

Under the 2014 farm bill, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Department of Agriculture receive annual funding from the USDA to award grants for projects that enhance the competitiveness of states’ specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.

*Foodservice and Influencers, national telephone survey of 1,000 primary shoppers conducted by Produce Marketing Association, May 2006.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Pear Bureau Northwest awarded specialty crop block grant

Pear Bureau Northwest was awarded $ 40,000 from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and $ 20,000 from the Washington State Department of Agriculture through the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant. The grant will enable the Pear Bureau Northwest to focus on “Putting Pears on the Menu: Increasing the use of Pears on National Chain Restaurants.”uspear

The Pear Bureau will educate foodservice decision makers on pear varieties, seasonality, storage and ripening through outreach activities targeting large restaurant chains. The increased demand of fresh pears in foodservice will help Northwest growers and shippers keep pace with a growing supply of high-quality fruit.

“This grant will help increase pear usage and awareness among consumers throughout the US.,” Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Studies show that nearly 40 percent of consumers who try a food in a restaurant will look to make it at home*, so expanding restaurant use of pears will expand retail purchases and home use as well.”

Under the 2014 farm bill, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Department of Agriculture receive annual funding from the USDA to award grants for projects that enhance the competitiveness of states’ specialty crops.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops. Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops.

*Foodservice and Influencers, national telephone survey of 1,000 primary shoppers conducted by Produce Marketing Association, May 2006.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.