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September farm update

by Chris Hinyub, published

The annual California grape harvest is in full swing and so far field reports are positive, with few weather related issues. Raisin grape growers are picking their produce at its peak this week. Wine grapes and table grapes have already started moving to market earlier this month.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that at least 85 million cartons of navel oranges are sitting on trees in the Central Valley. Over 95 percent of the state's navel orange crop is grown in the region. Producers won't know for sure until after the harvest, but this season's crop just might be one of the largest on record. Industry insiders say that even so, it won't best last season's record-setting bounty. Valencia oranges and lemons are two other citrus fruits that are being packed this month.


The latest California Crop Weather report, a service of the Sacramento, California Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, tells us that the harvest of pears and apples continued in earnest this week, as did that of lemons. Pomegranates began to color last week, while the Asian pear harvest was in high gear. Olive orchards have continued to yield well and the fig harvests have gotten underway. Kiwis are developing well. Winding down are the prune and peach harvests.


Some of the field crops that California farmers have been harvesting in September include: corn for silage, seed alfalfa, rice and safflower. As sorghum fields were mowed early in the month, the ground was prepared for the Fall wheat planting. Farmers are closely checking the progress of black-eye beans, sunflowers and cotton – all of which are close to reaping.


Also this month, the nonpareil almond harvest got up to speed across California. Growers have begun to harvest other varieties. Walnut groves are being prepared for harvest with last minute pest and weed control applications. The pistachio harvest is in full swing.


The California Farm Bureau is reporting that organic vegetable production in the state has risen. According to farmers and crop advisers, marketing opportunities beyond direct marketing and farmers markets have led to the expansion of organic acreage on farms that used to only dedicate a small percentage of their land to organic practices. Many growers in the state now maintain conventional and organic operations on the same farm.


Speaking of vegetable production, Central Valley counties are reporting ongoing harvests of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, onions, garlic, daikon, zucchini, sweet corn, carrots, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe and garbanzo beans. Cold weather brassica crops such as broccoli and kale are being rotated in behind some of these.

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