Food and Farm News - March 18, 2020

New coronavirus may affect demand for farm products


As public health officials grapple with the impacts of the new coronavirus, farmers and agricultural marketers assess the impact on their businesses. Analysts say slower economic growth, reductions in travel and trade slowdowns caused by reactions to the virus could contribute to declining demand for certain farm products. In addition, some agricultural trade missions and conferences have been canceled or postponed. 


California-grown cabbage fills St. Patrick's Day market


Cabbage has been heading to market for St. Patrick's Day in plentiful supply. California farmers say warm, dry weather during the growing season has caused cabbage to mature rapidly. Wholesale prices have been much lower than at the same time a year ago. Farmers along the Central Coast and in the desert have been harvesting cabbage prior to the holiday. California leads the nation in cabbage production.  


California grape crush declined in 2019


Fewer grapes were crushed for wine in California last year. A report issued Tuesday says wineries crushed about 4.1 million tons of grapes in 2019, down nearly 9% from a year earlier. The average price earned by grape growers also declined, about two and a half percent. Some grapes went unharvested last year because of an oversupply. Chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon remained the most popular winegrape varieties.


Study says wild plants could help their domesticated cousins


Wild relatives of crop plants could help crops grow successfully with less fertilizer, according to new research. A professor at the University of California, Riverside, says wild plants can interact more successfully with soil microbes than their domesticated relatives that were bred for high yields. The study indicates that breeding some of those traits back into domesticated crop plants could improve plant growth.