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Pomegranate growers work to increase consumer awareness

Pomegranate growers work to increase consumer awareness | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Early indications suggest a bigger fall pomegranate crop out of California this year. Growers don’t expect selling it all to be a problem, but more substantial growth in the future would require making the kind of connection with consumers that’s been elusive so far.

 

Shipments could be as high as 4 million boxes industrywide, up from 3.5 million last year when rains ended production early, said Jeff Simonian, vice president of sales and marketing for Simonian Fruit Co., Fowler, Calif.

 

“A lot of people are still unfamiliar with the fruit,” Simonian said. “There’s been research done that shows only 15% or so of people in the U.S. know what a pomegranate is.”

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An Urban Gardening Initiative Greens Johannesburg Rooftops in a Bid to Tackle Climate Change

An Urban Gardening Initiative Greens Johannesburg Rooftops in a Bid to Tackle Climate Change | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
By Ioulia Fenton Tlhago means nature in Afrikaans. And it is nature that the Tlhago Primary Agricultural Cooperative has brought to the roof-scape of Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

Tlhago means nature in Afrikaans. And it is nature that the Tlhago Primary Agricultural Cooperative has brought to the roof-scape of Johannesburg, South Africa. Since July 2010, the cooperative’s six organizers (two men and four women) have planted two rooftop gardens at the heart of the metropolis and, through outreach and educational activities, have transferred urban gardening skills to more than 100 people from local communities.


“When people come to the city to look for a job they struggle because all that they are used to [in the countryside] is planting vegetables. The city does not have any land, so we show them how to grow on the roof,” said Tshediso Phahlane, Deputy Chair of the cooperative. Everything is planted using sustainable, organic methods and the gardens produce a wide variety of vegetables and greens, including cabbage, spinach, carrots, mustard leaf, and CM Kale (African spinach). The produce is sold to the rooftop gardens’ local patrons and additional income is secured from the preparation and sale of traditional medicines such as cough syrups, massage ointments, and herbal creams.

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Drought May Have A Toxic Side Effect

Drought May Have A Toxic Side Effect | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

CHICAGO, Aug 15 (Reuters) - The worst U.S. drought in five decades has parched the land and decimated crops. It now threatens to deal a second blow to farmers, who may have to throw out tonnes of toxic feed.

Growers are rushing to check the nitrate levels of that silage, the stalks and leaves that corn farmers often harvest to feed to locally raised cattle or hogs.

Agriculture groups are warning farmers that drought-hit plants may have failed to process nitrogen fertilizer due to stunted growth, making them poisonous to livestock.

Exceptionally early spring planting has caused a crush of early summer requests for the tests. Farmers are also expected to chop down a near-record swathe of their fields for silage to make up for this year's poor yields.

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Current Events: Drought-bruised U.S. crops get minor relief from cool snap

Current Events: Drought-bruised U.S. crops get minor relief from cool snap | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
CHICAGO, Aug 14-Cooler and damper weather in the U.S.

 

Cooler and damper weather in the U.S. crop belt over the next week will slow further deterioration of corn and soybeans from the summer stress of the worst drought in more than a half century, an agricultural meteorologist said on Tuesday.

 

"Corn is too far gone to help at all but some of the northern soybeans may be helped, but the beans in the central and south are too stressed to come back," said Don Keeney, a meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.

 

Keeney said up to 60 percent of the U.S. Midwest should receive from 0.25 inch to 1.00 inch of rain this week and the U.S. Plains states should receive a welcome 0.30 inch to 1.00 inch as well.

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Demand for water outstrips supply

Demand for water outstrips supply | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Groundwater use is unsustainable in many of the world's major agricultural zones.

 

Almost one-quarter of the world’s population lives in regions where groundwater is being used up faster than it can be replenished, concludes a comprehensive global analysis of groundwater depletion, published this week in Nature.

 

Across the world, human civilizations depend largely on tapping vast reservoirs of water that have been stored for up to thousands of years in sand, clay and rock deep underground. These massive aquifers — which in some cases stretch across multiple states and country borders — provide water for drinking and crop irrigation, as well as to support ecosystems such as forests and fisheries.

 

Yet in most of the world’s major agricultural regions, including the Central Valley in California, the Nile delta region of Egypt, and the Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan, demand exceeds these reservoirs' capacity for renewal.

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The New 'Dust Bowl': Are Dust Storms Stirring Up Disease?

The New 'Dust Bowl': Are Dust Storms Stirring Up Disease? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Scientists are predicting that the frequency of dust storms, on the rise in the last few years, will continue to increase. Some have also suggested that these storms might well be carrying a more hazardous payload than meets the eye.

 

The most well-understood health threat from these storms is the dust particles themselves. If small enough, they can slip past a body's natural defenses -- nose hairs, for example -- to infiltrate and damage one's respiratory system. Now scientists are learning about an array of harmful substances that may also hitch a ride: arsenic and other heavy metals, agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, as well as a laundry list of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

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Apple Season 2012: Farmers Optimistic For Northeast Crop Harvest Despite ... - Huffington Post

Apple Season 2012: Farmers Optimistic For Northeast Crop Harvest Despite ... - Huffington Post | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

At the mercy of Mother Nature, apple growers in northern New England are often pessimistic at the start of the season. So when an early spring was followed by a frost, they watched closely in the coming months for signs of damage. Instead, they have been pleasantly surprised.

 

Turns out, not only was the damage not nearly as bad as in some big apple states like Michigan, but this year's apples are expected to have more intense flavor, said Terry Bradshaw, president of Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association.

 

"By all the textbooks, we shouldn't have any apples in the state," he said. The news hasn't been all good — the yield is expected to be down about 10 to 20 percent. Still, Bradshaw said, "people are fairly optimistic about the season."

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Beverage companies pay millions to conserve water - USA TODAY

Beverage companies pay millions to conserve water - USA TODAY | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Texas – Fifty miles outside the nation's fourth-largest city is a massive field of waist-high grass, buzzing bees and palm-size butterflies, just waiting to be ripped up by a developer.


But rather than develop this pristine remnant of coastal prairie, vast enough to house more than 300 football fields, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure it remains untouched.


The project is part of the company's $1.1 million investment in the Nature Conservancy, designed to benefit five Texas watersheds — including Nash Prairie outside Houston — from which its bottling plants draw water.


The money will go toward preservation, such as reseeding the grass, to restore and expand an ecosystem that once covered 6 million acres from southwest Louisiana through Texas. The projects will improve water quality and quantity by preserving the prairies' sponge-like attributes.

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Farmers, ranchers try to cope with climate change - USA TODAY

Farmers, ranchers try to cope with climate change - USA TODAY | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Across American agriculture, farmers and crop scientists have concluded that it's too late to fight climate change.


They are trying to adapt to it with new generations of hardier animals and plants specially engineered to survive, and even thrive, in intense heat, with little rain.


Cattle are being bred with genes from their African cousins accustomed to hot weather. New corn varieties are emerging with larger roots for gathering water in a drought. Someday, the plants may even be able to "resurrect" themselves after a long dry spell, recovering quickly when rain returns.


"The single largest limitation for agriculture worldwide is drought," says Andrew Wood, a professor of plant physiology and molecular biology at Southern Illinois University.

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Current Events: Attempts to avoid food crisis may worsen problem

Current Events: Attempts to avoid food crisis may worsen problem | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Attempts by major food importing nations to shelter their populations from the effects of a U.S. drought may make a bad situation worse, five y e ars after the last jump in crop prices provoked rioting in some of the world's most fragile states.

 

Many governments have watched on the sidelines as drought in the U.S. farm belt sent prices of corn (maize) soybeans and wheat soaring, hoping that the market would eventually ease.

However, their nerve seems to have broken with Mexico, the world's second biggest corn importer which suffered "tortilla riots" in 2007, making a huge purchase last week.

With fears growing that drought will also cut the wheat harvest in the Black Sea region, buyers in the turbulent Middle East are now also pouring on to the markets.

 

"A cascade effect is not inconceivable and may well be taking place - wheat prices have shot up nearly 50 percent since the beginning of July," said J.Peter Pham, a director with U.S. think tank the Atlantic Council.

 

"If such proves to be the case, some of the most fragile states may well be shaken," added Pham, who also advises U.S. and European governments on strategic issues.

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Malawi's food safety threatened by contaminated groundnuts

Malawi's food safety threatened by contaminated groundnuts | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Fair trade NGO Twin is calling for urgent action after revealing 60% of groundnuts are not tested for potentially lethal aflatoxins.

 

Africa once was an important exporter of raw peanuts. In the 1960s, the continent accounted for about 75% of the global trade; by 2005, that had figure had slumped to just 5%. Increased competition from America, Argentina and particularly China was part of the story. But stricter food safety controls from Europe also took their toll. In particular, European countries placed strict limits on the level of aflatoxins – a type of mycotoxin fungi – in peanuts, hitting countries such as Malawi.

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World Heritage status could help revive traditional farming: KSBB - The Hindu

World Heritage status could help revive traditional farming: KSBB - The Hindu | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Kerala could leverage the World Heritage Site status for the Western Ghats to tap the United Nations for funds to revive traditional farming practices, chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB), V. Oommen, has suggested.

 

Talking to The Hindu here on Monday, Dr. Oommen said the introduction of the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Kerala would encourage cultivation of traditional crops, revive the practice of conserving seeds and promote organic farming. PES is a practice under which farmers or landowners are offered incentives in exchange for sustainable management of natural resources.

 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) could be approached for funding the mechanism, he suggested.

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Weather-driven food inflation another headache for India - Reuters

Weather-driven food inflation another headache for India - Reuters | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

For India, the annual monsoon rains are crucial for farm output and economic growth, as about 55 percent of the country's arable land is rain-fed. The farm sector accounts for about 15 percent of the nearly $2-trillion economy, but about half of India's 1.2 billion people making a living from farming-related activities.

 

Almost halfway through the monsoon season, rainfall is 22 percent below average, and in some areas the rainfall deficit is as high as 68 percent.

 

Thankfully, recent bumper harvests mean India has record stocks of wheat and rice.

 

The worry lies in the output of pulses, edible oils, milk, poultry products, sugar, fruit and vegetables failing to keep up with rising demand.

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Rooftop Farming Flourishes in Hong Kong

Rooftop Farming Flourishes in Hong Kong | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

On the rooftop of a tower block above the hustle and bustle of teeming Hong Kong, dedicated growers tend to their organic crops in a vegetable garden.

 

Against a backdrop of skyscrapers and jungle-clad hills, earth-filled boxes are spread out on the roof of the 14-storey building, where a wide variety of produce including cucumbers and potatoes are cultivated.

 

It is one of several such sites that have sprung up in Hong Kong’s concrete jungle, as the appetite for organic produce grows and people seek ways to escape one of the most densely populated places on earth.

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Forecast: US drought lingering but leveling off - Kansas City Star

Forecast: US drought lingering but leveling off - Kansas City Star | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The worst drought in the U.S. in decades may be leveling off or even be easing ever so slightly in some lucky locales, federal weather forecasters announced Thursday in a report of little comfort for farmers and ranchers who already have begun tallying this year's losses.

 

While the latest forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center calls for the drought to linger in the nation's breadbasket and parts of some mountain states at least through November, it provided a silver lining with the news that conditions aren't expected to get worse.

 

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Urban Farms are Sprouting Up Across the Globe |

Urban Farms are Sprouting Up Across the Globe | | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Now, concerns about food scarcity and security, as well as the desire to have a shorter, more transparent loop from where food is grown to where it is consumed is fueling an urban agriculture revolution.

 

Most of the world’s population resides in cities and according to the USDA, about 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas.

 

City and suburban agriculture takes many forms, including backyard vegetable plots, roof-top and balcony gardens, community mini-farms in vacant lots and parks, roadside urban fringe agriculture and livestock grazing in open space. City planners are now envisioning “vertical farms” – indoor, hydroponic gardens housed in multi-story buildings – to make optimum use of valuable city real estate. Seattle-based architecture firm Mithun designed the vertical farm shown below so that it would not require any water from municipalities and would also use photovoltaic cells to produce nearly 100% of the building’s electricity.


Via Alan Yoshioka
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Nature News Blog: Golden sweet potato shows success : Nature News Blog

Nature News Blog: Golden sweet potato shows success : Nature News Blog | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A variety of sweet potato, bred to contain more vitamin A, could prove a useful tool in tackling nutrient deficiency in parts of Africa, following a successful trial of the tuber among malnourished women and children in Uganda.  Read more...

 

The results, published this week in the Journal of Nutrition, show that 61% of households grew the crops, and that the biofortified tubers replaced one-third of conventional white- and yellow-sweet-potato consumption. This substitution, the researchers say, was sufficient to ensure that a significant number of children and women obtained their daily vitamin A requirements.

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Potato growers in Wales face serious challenges | News | Farmers Guardian

Potato growers in Wales face serious challenges | News | Farmers Guardian | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
POTATO growers in West Wales are facing a challenging season following the heavy rainfall and lack of sunshine in recent months.

 

“Potato Council figures up until July 20 this year show yields of 22.7 tonnes per hectare compared to 33.1 tonnes at the same time last year.

 

“The wet weather has also contributed to a really high incidence of blight, the highest I have seen for many years,” he added.

 

“On top of this, harvesting the crop has been made difficult by the condition of the soil, with yields proving to be highly variable and well down on last year.”

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Break It Down: Waste Company Finds Success with Ethical Values

Break It Down: Waste Company Finds Success with Ethical Values | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Jeff Paine and his wife discovered there were no methods for businesses to compost instead of sending food waste to landfills.

 

“This is the kind of thing I love because our ethical values about waste are in full alignment with our economic goals. Any new program that comes out of here is not only better for the environment, it’s better for our bottom line too. I don’t know if it was by accident or just because that has always been the goal from day one; but it’s really nice to not have too many opportunities come up in which we need to either ‘do what’s right’ and lose money or 'do what’s wrong’ and save money. It’s very gratifying to just have those factors in alignment like that.”

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‘Irrigation water for winter crops secured’

‘Irrigation water for winter crops secured’ | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
AMMAN — Sufficient amounts of water have been secured for Jordan Valley farmers as they start preparing their land to cultivate winter crops, officials said on Thursday.

 

A total of 100 million cubic metres (mcm) is required for the irrigation of winter crops, locally referred to as orweh tishrineyeh, according to Jordan Valley Authority (JVA) Secretary General Saad Abu Hammour.


"We are prepared to provide farmers with their needs of water during orweh tishrineyeh from various water resources including dams which currently hold 77.4mcm," Abu Hammour told The Jordan Times yesterday.


Orweh tishrineyeh is a local agricultural term that refers to the period between September and the end of the year during which farmers plant vegetables in the Jordan Valley. Different kinds of vegetables are cultivated during this period, including cucumber, tomato, eggplant and zucchini.

 

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Seeking hardier breeds for drought, climate change - The News Journal

Seeking hardier breeds for drought, climate change - The News Journal | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

DES MOINES, IOWA — Cattle are being bred with genes from their African cousins who are accustomed to hot weather. New corn varieties are emerging with larger roots for gathering water in a drought. Someday, the plants may even be able to “resurrect” themselves after a long dry spell, recovering quickly when rain returns.

 

Across American agriculture, farmers and crop scientists have concluded that it’s too late to fight climate change. They need to adapt to it with a new generation of hardier animals and plants specially engineered to survive, and even thrive, in intense heat, with little rain.

 

The urgency is also evident in Texas, where rainfall has been below normal since 1996. Crops and pastures were decimated in 2011 by a searing drought, and some got hit again this year. Ranchers have sold off many animals they couldn’t graze or afford to feed. Cattle inventory, at 97.8 million head as of July 1, is the smallest since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began a July count in 1973.

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Ag producers still fighting Mother Nature - Leader and Times

Ag producers still fighting Mother Nature - Leader and Times | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Southwest Kansas, like much of the nation, is still seeing a lack of rain, and crops continue to suffer, so much so that last week the government slashed its expectations for U.S. corn and soybean production for the second consecutive month.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted this year’s corn crop could have the lowest average yield in more than 15 years as the drought continues in key farm states.


USDA cut its projection for August to 10.8 billion bushels of corn, down 17 percent from its forecast last month of nearly 13 billion bushels and 13 percent lower than last year. If that prediction is accurate, that would be the lowest production since 2006.


In its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, USDA officials said corn growers are now estimated to grow an average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year and the lowest average yield in 17 years.

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Current Events: Drought tightens grip on top US farm states

Current Events: Drought tightens grip on top US farm states | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Aug 9 (Reuters) - In the past week, extreme drought doubled its grip on the top corn and soybean producing state of Iowa.

 

The area under extreme drought in Iowa rose dramatically to 69.14 percent from 30.74 percent a week ago.

 

Drought expanded in other important farm states over the last week as well, to 94 percent of Missouri and more than 81 percent of Illinois for at least extreme drought.

 

The drought has been made worse by scorching temperatures. July turned out to be the hottest month in the continental United States on record, beating the one recorded in July 1936, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

 

The January-to-July period was also the warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1895, and the warmest 12-month period, eclipsing the last record set just a month ago. It was the fourth time in as many months that U.S. temperatures broke the hottest-12-months record, according to NOAA.

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The Popularity of Farmer’s Markets Surges

The Popularity of Farmer’s Markets Surges | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

As demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has increased, so too has the number of urban farmers markets sprouting up across the nation.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced August 3, 2012 that the number of direct-sales markets has increased 9.6 percent in the past year, with California and New York leading the way.

 

“Farmers markets are a critical ingredient to our nation’s food system,” USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said. “These outlets provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also to the communities looking for fresh, healthy foods.”

 

After 18 years of steady increases, the number of farmers markets across the country now registered with the USDA is 7,864. In 1994, there were 1,744.

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Pesticide Drift Forces Clash Between French Fry Farm, Sick Rural Residents

Pesticide Drift Forces Clash Between French Fry Farm, Sick Rural Residents | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Pesticides can veer from their intended target and put people at risk in a variety ways, explained Jim Riddle, organic outreach coordinator for the University of Minnesota's Southwest Research and Outreach Center. Strong winds will send pesticides across great distances, and hot temperatures alone can be enough to cause pesticides to drift, said Riddle.

 

From 2006 to 2009, in an effort to detect pesticides in the air they breathed, residents of central Minnesota set up air monitors on everything from back patios to school rooftops. One or more pesticides were found in 64 percent of 340 samples taken by the so-called drift catchers, according to results published by the nonprofit Pesticide Action Network in May. The most commonly detected chemical was a potato fungicide, chlorothalonil, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a "probable" carcinogen and "highly toxic" if inhaled.

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