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Reforestation in Lower Mississippi Valley reduces sediment

Dec. 2, 2013 — A modeling study by U.S. Forest Service researchers shows that reforesting the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley can significantly reduce runoff from agricultural lands and the amount of sediment entering the area’s rivers and streams — and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. The journal Ecological Engineering recently published the results of the study by Forest Service Southern Research Station scientists Ying Ouyang, Ted Leininger, and Matt Moran.

The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, located in the historic floodplain of the Mississippi River, stretches from Cairo, Illinois south to the Gulf of Mexico. One of the largest coastal and river basins in the world, the area is also one of the most affected by floods, erosion, and sediment deposition as a result of more than a century of converting bottomland hardwood forests to agricultural lands.

Sediments from frequently flooded agricultural lands often carry pesticides and fertilizers, the latter associated with the formation of the hypoxic (low oxygen) dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Forest buffers reduce runoff and sediment load from flooded agricultural lands; in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the frequently flooded agricultural land in the batture (land that lies between a river and its levees, pronounced batch-er) seems a prime site to start reforestation efforts.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) commissioned the study, and co-funded it with Forest Service State and Private Forestry. “This study provides further evidence of the key role forests play in flood control and in reducing sediment flow from agricultural lands into our watersheds,” notes Carlton Owen, president and CEO of the Endowment. “The new forest areas would also provide regional economic and environmental benefits by not only improving water quality but also wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.”

The researchers chose two Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley watersheds — the large Lower Yazoo River Watershed and the smaller Peters Creek Watershed — to model the effects of reforestation in or near the battures on water outflow and sediment load (the amount of solid material carried by a river or stream). They performed two simulations, the first to predict water outflow and sediment load without reforestation, the second to project over 10 years the potential impacts of converting different levels — 25, 50, 75, and 100 percent — of the land to forest in or near the battures.

“Comparing simulation results with and without reforestation showed that converting agricultural lands close to streams into forests would greatly lessen water outflow and reduce the effects of sediment load as far as the Gulf of Mexico,” says Ouyang, lead author of the article and research hydrologist at the SRS Center for Bottomland Hardwoods Research. “In general, the larger the area converted, the greater the effect. For the Lower Yazoo River watershed, a two-fold increase in forest land area would result in approximately a two-fold reduction in the annual volume of water outflow and the mass of sediment load moving into the river.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Red River Valley potato harvest running late in 2013

A delayed Red River Valley red potato crop was very late in revealing itself. But by Oct. 3, about 50 percent of the shipping district’s crop had been harvested, according to Ted Kreis, the marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN.

The most optimistic hopes for the crop were being fulfilled, Kreis said. “The quality is looking very good. The yields vary from 120 hundredweight to 240 hundredweight per acre. OpenerShotpulledA potato field in blossom in the Red River Valley. The 2013 season was running late, with about half of the crop harvested at press time.We will have less product” because of the low side of the yields, compared to the 2012 crop, “but we will make up for it with higher packout rates. We will have better quality and we will ship as many as last year.”

Kreis indicated that the valley received gentle rain over a wide region Sept. 27-28. This softened the dry soil for critical harvest dates. He said product harvested in dry soil faces dirt clumps with sharp edges that harm the spuds. More rain — with perhaps a few harmless snowflakes — was forecast for Oct. 4-5.

“A lot of damage was down to production early,” with too much rain and a late spring. Then, Kreis said, “The growing season progressed very well. July and August were very dry, which trimmed yields further. But we’re salvaging a good crop and the rain helps.”

Coleen Vincent, the sales manager of Northern Valley Growers LLC in Hoople, ND, said Oct. 3, “The potatoes in the bin now all look good. The growers told me the crop is better than they expected. Considering how the year started, we are very happy with the crop. We seem fine. We are happy with what we are putting in the bins.”

Steve Tweten, president of NoKota Packers Inc. in Buxton, ND, said Oct. 3 that NoKota’s harvesting was about 35-40 percent complete. “The quality is very nice. The tonnage is variable, which is what we expected. Overall, NoKota has average yields. For others, yields are good to below average.” An average yield, he said, is about 200 hundredweight per acre.

Fresh-market red potato prices will “need to rise to be OK,” Tweten said. “The prices are better than last year. The outlook is that there is a good chance the market should improve, based on the national position. There is OK tonnage, which should match nicely to demand.”

When the Red River Valley potato crop is normally 50 percent to 60 percent harvested, it was only 11 percent complete in 2013, Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers told The Produce News.

Gunnerson indicated the crop was planted two or three weeks late in the spring and has been running behind since that time.

Heading into October, the Red River Valley potato industry was still trying to grasp the nature of its crop, Gunnerson said. “There are many variables. Some areas had an excess of rain. Some had a lack of rainfall.”

That picture would not clearly reveal itself until the harvest was into October this year.

Red River Valley growers all had virtually the same message: There have been mixed reviews in early field sampling. There has been a difference in yields within one field. A cold spring delayed planting in the valley and the timing has remained out of sync since.

The good news is that early indications are that the quality of the 2013 Red River Valley red potato crop is good.

According to Gunnerson, there was less than an inch of rain recorded in nearly all weather stations in North Dakota in the first 25 days of August. September had some rain but was still inadequate for the growers’ needs.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Red River Valley potato harvest running late in 2013

A delayed Red River Valley red potato crop was very late in revealing itself. But by Oct. 3, about 50 percent of the shipping district’s crop had been harvested, according to Ted Kreis, the marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN.

The most optimistic hopes for the crop were being fulfilled, Kreis said. “The quality is looking very good. The yields vary from 120 hundredweight to 240 hundredweight per acre. OpenerShotpulledA potato field in blossom in the Red River Valley. The 2013 season was running late, with about half of the crop harvested at press time.We will have less product” because of the low side of the yields, compared to the 2012 crop, “but we will make up for it with higher packout rates. We will have better quality and we will ship as many as last year.”

Kreis indicated that the valley received gentle rain over a wide region Sept. 27-28. This softened the dry soil for critical harvest dates. He said product harvested in dry soil faces dirt clumps with sharp edges that harm the spuds. More rain — with perhaps a few harmless snowflakes — was forecast for Oct. 4-5.

“A lot of damage was down to production early,” with too much rain and a late spring. Then, Kreis said, “The growing season progressed very well. July and August were very dry, which trimmed yields further. But we’re salvaging a good crop and the rain helps.”

Coleen Vincent, the sales manager of Northern Valley Growers LLC in Hoople, ND, said Oct. 3, “The potatoes in the bin now all look good. The growers told me the crop is better than they expected. Considering how the year started, we are very happy with the crop. We seem fine. We are happy with what we are putting in the bins.”

Steve Tweten, president of NoKota Packers Inc. in Buxton, ND, said Oct. 3 that NoKota’s harvesting was about 35-40 percent complete. “The quality is very nice. The tonnage is variable, which is what we expected. Overall, NoKota has average yields. For others, yields are good to below average.” An average yield, he said, is about 200 hundredweight per acre.

Fresh-market red potato prices will “need to rise to be OK,” Tweten said. “The prices are better than last year. The outlook is that there is a good chance the market should improve, based on the national position. There is OK tonnage, which should match nicely to demand.”

When the Red River Valley potato crop is normally 50 percent to 60 percent harvested, it was only 11 percent complete in 2013, Chuck Gunnerson, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers told The Produce News.

Gunnerson indicated the crop was planted two or three weeks late in the spring and has been running behind since that time.

Heading into October, the Red River Valley potato industry was still trying to grasp the nature of its crop, Gunnerson said. “There are many variables. Some areas had an excess of rain. Some had a lack of rainfall.”

That picture would not clearly reveal itself until the harvest was into October this year.

Red River Valley growers all had virtually the same message: There have been mixed reviews in early field sampling. There has been a difference in yields within one field. A cold spring delayed planting in the valley and the timing has remained out of sync since.

The good news is that early indications are that the quality of the 2013 Red River Valley red potato crop is good.

According to Gunnerson, there was less than an inch of rain recorded in nearly all weather stations in North Dakota in the first 25 days of August. September had some rain but was still inadequate for the growers’ needs.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Valley Fruit & Produce promotes Rick Paino to sales manager

Valley Fruit & Produce, a full-line wholesaler-distributor of quality fresh fruits and vegetables based in Los Angeles, announced the promotion of Rick Paino to sales manager.

In his new position as sales manager, Paino will work with the Valley sales team to create strategies for accomplishing its sales goals, while continuing as commodity manager for the apple and pear division at Valley.

“It’s a challenge to balance providing our customers with highly competitive pricing paired with guaranteed quality and service while also making sure that we provide consistent and fair returns to our vendors,” Paino said in a press release. “It’s a challenge I am up to and I am eager to share my knowledge and experience with the sales team.”

Paino began his nearly 40-year produce career at Giumarra Bros. Fruit Co. in 1974. He joined Valley Fruit in 1986 and has been an integral part of the sales team for the last 27 years.

“What Rick brings to the role of sales manager is a great combination of extensive produce selling and buying experience, a passion for produce, pride in being a part of Valley, and a strong desire to share all of that with the rest of the sales team,” Doug La Londe, chief operating officer at Valley, said in a press release. “Under Rick’s guidance, we look forward to continuing our tradition of providing great quality produce and service to our customers every day.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Jin Ju Wilder named director of marketing at Valley Fruit & Produce

Valley Fruit & Produce, a full-line wholesaler-distributor of quality fresh fruits and vegetables located in Los Angeles, announced that Jin Ju Wilder has been hired as director of Marketing.

In this new position for the company, Wilder will bring her 20 years of produce industry experience to the planning, development and implementation of Valley’s marketing strategies, external and internal communications, and public relations activities.

Jin-JuJin Ju Wilder“I was very fortunate to work with Valley as a consultant over the last three years,” Wilder said in a press release. “I am excited to work with a company that handles so much volume and has a very diverse customer base. When Carrie and Doug [La Londe] presented me with an opportunity to participate in and have an impact on so many market channels, I couldn’t wait to get started.”

Wilder is also president of Status Gro, a consulting firm she founded in 2010 to help businesses grow through strategic planning, innovation, and teamwork. Through Status Gro, she has helped numerous produce companies design and implement branding, marketing, communications, and business development strategies.

Prior to launching Status Gro, Wilder served as president of Coast Produce Co., where she led their transformation from a regional produce wholesaler to a supply chain solutions provider on a national level for clients such as Albertsons, Supervalu and Kroger, as well as government agencies such as the Defense Commissary Agency and the Defense Logistics Agency.

“Having Jin Ju as part of the Valley team strengthens our ability to provide our customers with highly customized and strategic solution packages,” Carrie La Londe said in the press release. “Today, Valley is more than a produce wholesaler; we are responsible for our customers’ produce supply chain needs from the fields to the consumers’ forks.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Death Valley National Park Asks Visitors to Stop Egg-Cooking Stunts

Death Valley National Park just celebrated the 100th anniversary of the world’s hottest day ever recorded (134 degrees F). With recent temperatures nearly matching that record, visitors have allegedly been descending on the park to try frying eggs in the heat, including directly on the sidewalks and rocks, prompting the park staff to take to Facebook to ask visitors to stop.

The trend apparently started after a park employee fried an egg inside a covered skillet in a video posted to YouTube on June 29. Several visitors attempted to imitate the video in the days that followed, though not all of them were as careful or considerate of maintenance staff.

“An employee’s posting of frying an egg in a pan in Death Valley was intended to demonstrate how hot it can get here, with the recommendation that if you do this, use a pan or tin foil and properly dispose of the contents,” the park staff wrote. “However, the Death Valley NP maintenance crew has been busy cleaning up eggs cracked directly on the sidewalk, including egg cartons and shells strewn across the parking lot.”

“This is your national park,” they continued. “Please put trash in the garbage or recycle bins provided and don’t crack eggs on the sidewalks…”

Photo courtesy of Death Valley National Park.

Food Safety News

RPE partners with Frenchman Valley Produce

RPE Inc. has entered into a partnership with Imperial, NE-based Frenchman Valley Produce Inc., in which RPE will serve as the exclusive marketer for Frenchman Valley’s fresh potato sales.RPE-Logo-color

Frenchman Valley is a seasonal grower and shipper of fresh market and process-grade russet potatoes with farms in Kansas and Imperial, NE. New-crop potatoes are harvested as early as mid-July each year, and Frenchman Valley’s Imperial-based potato-packaging facility runs from mid-July through the end of December. Frenchman Valley Produce ships a total of 2.5 million 50-pound cases of fresh market potatoes annually.

“As a family-owned company, we are honored to partner with the May family and Frenchman Valley, and are truly humbled that Tim has chosen to partner with RPE,” Russell Wysocki, president and chief executive officer of RPE, said in a press release. “They are great people with great product. We are looking forward to using our category leadership to share more options with both our customers and Frenchman Valley.”

RPE’s Blackfoot, ID, office will serve as the main sales hub for Frenchman Valley’s potatoes. Director of Foodservice Sales Clay Gustaveson will handle the transition on RPE’s end, and Tron Crumley and Sue Rodriquez, RPE account managers, will serve as the primary sales members for the May family’s product. Both Crumley and Rodriquez have years of experience marketing fresh Russet potatoes from Nebraska.

“We’ve had a longstanding good working relationship with RPE,” Tim May, owner and president of Frenchman Valley, said in the release. “They’re all honest people. It made sense that this partnership with RPE is the direction we went in, since we’ve worked so closely for years.”

May will handle the transition of his customers to RPE, which will help the seasonal shipper reach a larger sales base. May and two of his sons, Taylor and Mathew, will continue running the family-owned operation, and their family farming tradition will continue for many years to come.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines