Food and Farm News - March 4, 2020

CVP announces initial water allocations


A reduced snowpack leads to cautious water allocations for San Joaquin Valley farmers. The federal Central Valley Project said Tuesday it expects to provide agricultural water contractors south of the delta with 15% supplies. The CVP says the allocation would have been less had it not been for new operations plans signed last week. Farm water contractors north of the delta received a 50% allocation.


February weather affects pastures, orchards


Warm, dry February weather has ranchers providing supplemental feed to their animals, and farmers checking their orchards. Pastures around the state have dried due to lack of rainfall, though a farm advisor says forage plants could recover if rains return in March. Fruit and nut trees need a certain amount of chilling to set a crop each year. So far, experts say, trees appear to have gotten enough chilly weather to go fully dormant.


Lower lemon prices result from increased supplies


Lemon prices have been lower than a year ago. Farmers say larger crops and overlapping harvests from other growing areas have put more fruit on the market. More farmers are harvesting a new, seedless variety they hope could boost lemon sales. Most demand for lemons comes from food service buyers, because the most frequent use for the fruit is as a condiment. California farms produce about three-quarters of the lemons grown in the U.S.


USDA reports on crop-automation investments


With farmers reporting ongoing trouble in hiring enough people to harvest fruits and vegetables, the U.S. Agriculture Department says it has invested nearly $300 million in research into automation and mechanization of specialty-crop production. In a report to Congress, USDA said it has funded more than 200 automation projects during the past decade. The agency says it has also worked to improve digital connectivity in rural areas.