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Fresh market vegetable acreage forecast higher in California

Forecasts of harvested acreage of several fresh market vegetables in California were up this past fall from a year ago, although others remain below 1999 levels, according to the California Agricultural Statistics Service (CASS).

Broccoli, with good quality predicted after growth in cool temperatures, is forecast at 27,500 acres, 2 percent more than last year but 4 percent less than 1999.

Forecasters see cantaloupes up 8 percent to 4,300 acres, although yields are expected to be lower due to weather problems.

Carrots encountered few disease or pest problems this year, and the October to December crop is pegged for 18,500 acres, or 6 percent more than a year earlier.

Unchanged at 11,000 acres is cauliflower, also showing good quality encouraged by cooler temperatures. The acreage is 5 percent more than 1999.

Celery's fall acreage is 6,900, up 8 percent and the same as 1999. The crop returned to normal after erratic weather and resulting disease and bolting problems in the first half of this year.

The temporary stand-down of aerial applicators after the terrorist events of September is blamed for some insect problems in sweet corn. Nevertheless, the crop is in for a 10 percent hike to bring the fall quarter acreage to 4,400.

Statisticians tallied honeydew acreage at 4,400, 33 percent more this fall than last. Uncertainties in water supplies during the spring caused plantings for fall harvest instead of summer harvest on some acreage.

Head lettuce is expected to be at 34,000 acres, 3 percent above 2000, the crop output returning to normal after wet conditions in the early spring.

Tomato harvest down

With their acreage down 10 percent from last year, fresh market tomato growers expect to harvest 9,500 acres, well short of the 12,000 acres of 1999.

The 2001 tomato season started with ideal conditions in early July, but later that month low temperatures arrived, only to be followed by higher temperatures in the first half of August. Despite the weather swings, the crop is reportedly progressing well.

CASS estimated the state's summer storage onion output for 2001 at 1.26 million hundredweight, 22 percent less than last year and 26 percent less than 1999, from an acreage estimated at 29,200. Poor prices in 2000 drove acreage down 20 percent from a year earlier, and cold winter weather delayed planting and development of the crop.

Other CASS numbers show lettuce production (all varieties) in California in 2000 generated cash income of more than $1.484 billion, continuing the upward trend in value of $1.129 billion of 1999 and $1.099 billion of 1998.

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