July 2022 - 4
An introduction, and
recognition of common
issues facing many growers
Although this is my first column for Vegetable Growers News, I'm hoping
many of you recognize my name or face. Before becoming the managing
editor for VGN and sister publication Fruit Growers News, I spent more
than two decades at The Packer newspaper,
covering fresh fruits and vegetables.
Perhaps I've visited your farm - over the
years, I toured Michigan fruit and vegetable
operations, New Jersey blueberry and other
fruit farms and vegetable fields, California
grape vineyards and stone fruit orchards,
Vidalia onion fields, potato production
areas in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and
Wisconsin, onion and vegetable fields in
the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and around
California's Salinas Valley, aka the Salad Bowl
of the World.
As a writer and editor, my ultimate role
was to inform retailers, foodservice operators and others who buy and sell
fresh produce about current industry trends, crop conditions and numerous
other factors that affect prices, quality and availability of fresh fruits and
vegetables. Sometimes those market factors were a direct result of decisions
made by you, the growers, but increasingly it seems that many of those
decisions aren't yours to make any more.
Mother Nature has always been a partner in the growing process, a
partnership every grower agrees to whenever a seed or tree is planted.
Lately, it seems she has been hell-bent to undermine your work, with storms,
wildfires, droughts and other natural disasters. Dwindling water supplies
and lack of rainfall in major growing areas is not a new development for
specialty agriculture, but the situation is becoming dire in some areas.
Ground Zero for water issues is California, considering the state's
agricultural history and population increases over the years.
Recent headlines highlight how critical the declining water availability is
* Proposed legislation would allocate $1.5 billion to purchase senior
water rights from growers who choose to participate. The growers
wouldn't irrigate the crops, and the water would remain in rivers and
other waterways covered by the water rights. Although water officials
say it's unlikely the legislation will clear the budget process, it's the
largest land retirement proposal in California in 30 years.
* Facing restrictions on watering lawns, some California residents said
they'd choose fines (which vary according to location, but could cost
repeat offenders thousands of dollars and installation of devices that
limit water flow) over a brown lawn. Others are taking a cue from
some specialty ag growers, installing drip irrigation systems.
* Bees are fish (sort of) - This isn't directly tied to the drought, but it
concerns California's endangered species law, which looks at how
water use affects endangered fish (leading to decisions that have
limited ag water use). A state court of appeals focused on the law's
references to " invertebrates, " in ruling that the bees are protected.
One of the most macabre news stories in recent months is about Lake
Mead, on the Nevada/Arizona border. For years, water levels have been
declining at the lake, which supplies nearby Las Vegas. The water levels have
dropped far enough that the remains of two bodies have been uncovered,
and officials expect more will be found as water continues to recede.
Other challenges that VGN and FGN readers see as growing obstacles
include labor availability. In some cases, the evolution of technology is
mitigating the lack of labor, and the cost of adding that technology is
becoming more affordable. Whether it's automatic harvesting or planting
equipment that cuts the need for workers in a field, or packinghouse
equipment that reduces the need for hands on the packing line, options to
address concerns about lack of labor are becoming a reality for more fruit
and vegetable growers.
Many of these issues have been discussed at fruit and vegetable field days
across the country this spring, and will be topics at summer and fall events.
VGN and FGN are working with the academic community, from college of
agriculture professors and horticulture departments to numerous Extension
agents in orchards and fields, to keep you informed of the issues that affect
WATCH. READ. SHARE
Colorado ag leader Bob Sakata dies
Bob Sakata, founder of Sakata Farms and a
leader in the vegetable industry, died June 7
at age 96.
Drought hits Northern California hard
As California toils through a third consecutive
drought year, many Sacramento Valley farmers,
well known for supporting waterfowl that stop
along the Pacific Flyway, are being left high
National Watermelon Promotion Board: Eat the rind!
The National Watermelon Promotion Board
launched its largest consumer-focused campaign
of the year, Use the Whole Watermelon.
AgroFresh, Novozymes partnership addresses
Biotech company Novozymes and post-harvest
freshness solutions provider AgroFresh are
forming a research and commercialization
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July 2022
July 2022 - 1
July 2022 - 2
July 2022 - 3
July 2022 - 4
July 2022 - 5
July 2022 - 6
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