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Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

Sound Consumer | November 2012

Some varieties of Washington apples may not have been picked in time due to the smoky conditions from wildfires in Central Washington this fall that prevented picking.

The Washington apple industry reportedly generated $7 billion in total economic output in the 2010-11 season, including all levels of production, packing, processing, marketing and research. The industry accounted for nearly 60,000 jobs.

Americans' demand for avocados has skyrocketed recently. Consumption in the first half of 2012 was 30 percent ahead of the same period last year. Mexican imports, available in all 50 states only since 2007, now contribute more than 60 percent of U.S. supply.

Northwest cherry growers harvested a record 23.2 million boxes of sweet cherries this season, breaking previous records, but sales weren't as strong as farmers hoped. Rain didn't wipe out the crop, but several storms caused anxiety and slowdown in picking, packing and buying, confusing the markets.

A $138,000 specialty crop grant has been awarded to the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farm-to-florist cooperative of flower growers in Washington, Oregon and Alaska that sells flowers at PCC. The federal grant will promote opportunities for specialty crops producers.

Washington is the leading producer of spearmint and peppermint in the world, widely used to flavor gum and toothpaste. The state produces enough mint oil each year to supply every American resident with 135 sticks of gum.

Cheese prices are on the rise on the Chicago Mercantile due to lower cold storage supplies, higher dairy cattle slaughterhouse rates and an expectation of lower milk production. Higher milk prices may be on the way.

U.S. seafood landings reached a 17-year high in 2011, according to a 2011 U.S. Fisheries report. These landings were achieved even with the announcement that 156 million pounds of seafood were discarded in one year in the U.S. Northeast alone. Ironically, U.S. per-capita seafood consumption dropped to its second-lowest level in 10 years.

More about: agriculture, apples, avocados, cheese, farmers, flowers, produce, seafood

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