Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday's Fruits

Can have them with your cereal:

"February freeze could cost Ashley’s Peaches the farm" by Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  April 14, 2016

ACUSHNET — An unseasonably warm winter brought peach trees all over New England out of dormancy early, leaving them vulnerable to February’s cold spell. The frigid temperatures decimated peach orchards across the state and with no peaches to sell for the first time in about 75 years, the future of Ashley’s Peaches looks a little fuzzy. The bills keep coming. Most of the farmland was sold off years ago and the farmhouse is mortgaged.

In the end, the freeze that cost many New England farms their peach crop may cost the Ventura’s, whose great-great-great grandfather lived in the same house and worked the same land, their livelihood.

Ed Davidian, president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, whose Davidian Brothers farm in Northborough also lost a good portion of his 15-acre peach crop this year, said the frigid February temperatures likely cost Massachusetts significant portions of its peach crop. And while an exact number of peach growers in the state was hard to come by, Davidian said it’s more than people might guess, perhaps as many as 300 or 400. Other northeastern states were affected as well, he said.

Peaches are typically a small part of a diverse array of crops, Davidian said. While the loss of a season’s worth of peaches would mean a substantial amount of money for some farms, it wouldn’t typically be enough to shutter a business.

But Ashley’s Peaches sells mostly peaches — hence the name — and a season with nothing to sell would be devastating.

“It would be like losing your job tomorrow,” said Ernest Ventura, though even that isn’t quite right. It would be like losing your paycheck, but still having to go to work every day.

If they can somehow float through this summer in the ghost orchard, buoyed by some combination of generosity and good fortune, Ernest is convinced that next summer’s crop would be special.

A year of rest will do the trees good, he said. It’ll also be the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary.

“Big crop next year,” Ernest said, and turned to Diane, smiling at her through his thick mustache and goatee. “I’ll take you somewhere.”

But they both know this is where they want to be....


Maybe the government will bail you out:

"US government to buy wild blueberries to help prop up prices" by Patrick Whittle Associated Press  April 15, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine — The US Department of Agriculture will buy up to 30 million pounds of wild blueberries to help stabilize prices and supply in one of Maine’s signature industries.

The members of Maine’s congressional delegation told the Associated Press on Thursday that the agency will pay up to $13 million for the wild blueberries.

The bailout could help spell the end of low prices to consumers on wild blueberries, which are harvested commercially in Maine and Canada.

So much for free markets and supply and demand.

They differ from the fatter cultivated blueberries in that they are smaller, have a more intense taste and are richer in antioxidants. Maine is by far the biggest wild blueberry producing state in the country, and it also produces about a quarter of North America’s total blueberries, according to the University of Illinois’s website.

The USDA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The purchase comes after the state’s congressional delegation asked for it in a letter to the federal agency in which they said prices of frozen wild blueberries have fallen by as much as half in the last five years. The legislators asked the agency to buy the berries for its domestic food-assistance programs.

Frozen wild blueberries slid from 90 cents per pound in 2011 to 60 cents per pound in 2014 and continue to drop, the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine has said. The commission has also said two back-to-back years of big crops have created a backlog of wild blueberries.

Nancy McBrady, executive director of the blueberry commission, said the low value of the Canadian dollar also has hurt Maine’s growers. She said Canadian growers, which are centered in the Maritime Provinces, are at a ‘‘tremendous competitive advantage’’ when selling in the United States and internationally because of the stronger US dollar.

‘‘And the competition from cultivated blueberries is omnipresent,’’ she said. ‘‘The prices of wild blueberries have dropped, so our farmers are earning less for our blueberries.’’

In Maine, wild blueberries are mostly harvested in the blueberry barrens of the state’s rural Downeast region. The state has some 44,000 acres of wild blueberries and it relies on the berries for about $250 million per year in economic value, officials have said.

US Representative Chellie Pingree said the purchase will help the blueberry industry as well as food-assistance programs in need of a healthy fruit product.

Oh, they are going to dump all of them into the school lunch program.

‘‘It makes a lot of sense for the federal government to make this purchase to help ease the surplus of frozen blueberries and at the same time supply food-assistance programs with a very healthy, high quality food,’’ she said.

Don't be alarmed when you start shitting blue.


At least they are doing better than the cranberry market.