California Agriculture, September-October 1999
Volume 53, Number 5
Trade outlook: Asian markets recover
peer-reviewed research articles
Defying expectations, Asian financial crisis had little impact on California farm exports
by Colin Carter, Megan Quinn
About a quarter of California's agricultural commodities are exported abroad, and about half of those are destined for Asia. When the Asian financial crisis hit in July 1997, trading losses to U.S. industry, including agriculture, were expected to be substantial. U.S. farm exports to the countries in East Asia most affected by the crisis were expected to decline by about 40% (see sidebar, p. 10), in fiscal 1998 and fiscal 1999. Our analysis, however, has determined that losses to U.S. growers were less, and losses to California growers as a result of the crisis were minimal. We interviewed California executives from the almond, beef, cotton, grape, orange and wine industries, and found no compelling evidence that the Asian financial crisis had a large negative impact on the export of these key California commodities. The Asian economies that were hit hardest by the crisis (Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines) constitute less than 10% of the California export market, which is only 2% of the state's production. In addition, the more mature economies of Japan and Hong Kong continued to import similar quantities from California throughout the crisis; in these richer economies, food imports from California are not all that responsive to changing domestic incomes and prices. And while the rest of the country suffered losses due to declines in grain and oilseed exports, California agriculture is not highly dependent on these crops, allowing growers to adjust more quickly to shifts in foreign demand.
Why California is different: Nationwide, ‘Asian flu’ had impact
by Collin Carter
Costs of pressurized orchard irrigation vary with system design
by Larry Schwankl, Terry Prichard, Blaine Hanson, IIene Wellman
The costs of solid-set sprinkler and microirrigation (drip, micro-sprinkler and minisprinkler) systems are a major factor in the adoption of these irrigation technologies. Following design criteria provided to them, an irrigation design firm prepared 22 different designs for the same almond orchard. Initial and annualized costs for each of these designs are presented and discussed. The costs were highest for the solid-set sprinkler systems. The inclusion of frost protection substantially increased the costs of the solid-set sprinkler, microsprinkler and minisprinkler systems. Designs allowing the 40-acre orchard to be irrigated in two 20-acre irrigation blocks significantly reduced the costs. Pumping energy costs were a major portion of the annualized costs for all designs.
Lead leaching in ceramics difficult to predict
by Nancy Feldman, Cathi Lamp, Arthur Craigmill
From 1993 to 1997, UC nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisors in 21 counties tested nearly 6,000 items of ceramic ware, of which 14.2% leached lead. More than half of the items manufactured in Mexico (51.9%) tested positive for leached lead with the UC Quick Lead Test. Ceramic ware from other countries, including the United States, also tested positive. No factors, other than being made in Mexico, were found to be useful predictors for lead leaching on any individual piece of ceramic ware. Consumers concerned about the possible leaching of lead from their ceramic ware should test each item individually.
Food stamp recipients eat more vegetables after viewing nutrition videos
by Amy Block Joy, Nancy Feldman, Mary Lavender Fujii, Linda Garcia, Mark Hudes, Rita Mitchell, Sybille Bunch, Diane Metz
After viewing a videotape promoting vegetables, food stamp recipients increased their consumption of vegetables. The control group that viewed a videotape on the safe use of household chemicals also increased their vegetable consumption, but to a lesser extent. The food stamp recipients greatly increased their potato consumption and scored significantly higher for vegetable knowledge than they had on the pretest, whereas the control group significantly improved its knowledge on the safe use of household chemicals. This study demonstrates that videotape instruction can improve nutrition knowledge, and to some extent can change the behavior of food stamp recipients.
Sheep thrive on weedy alfalfa
by Juan N. Guerrero, Martin I. López, Carl E. Bell, Brent Boutwell
A 28-day iamb grazing trial during the winters of 1994 and 1995 compared lamb gains on seedling alfalfa with differing mixes of weeds and aifalfa. Commercial crossbred wethers grazed experimental paddocks that were completely weed infested, as pure as possible alfalfa stand, 1/3 weed infested and 2/3 weed infested. Lambs had the same weight gain whether in paddocks that were pure alfalfa or in weed-infested alfalfa. Weed-infested paddocks were able to sustain more lamb grazing days than weed-free paddocks. The weed- infested paddocks produced more total pounds of lamb gain per acre of land than the weed-free paddocks. Using lambs to control weeds in seedling alfalfa would reduce herbicide use and would enable growers to market weeds as part of lamb grazing fees.
Peach size affects storage, market life
by Carlos H. Crisosto, David Garner, Luis Cid, Kevin R. Day
During the 1995 season, large (~275g), medium (~175g) and small (~125g) ‘O'Henry’ peaches were stored in either air, 5% CO2 + 2% O2 or 17% CO2 + 6% O2 at 380F (3.30C). Large ‘O'Henry’ peaches benefited more from the 17% CO2 + 6% O2 than from either the 5% CO2 + 2% O2 or the air storage treatment. During the 1996 season, large, medium and small ‘Elegant Lady’ and ‘O'Henry’ peaches were stored in air or in 17% CO2 + 6% O2 at either 320F (00C) or 380F. Fruit size, storage atmosphere and temperature all had significant effects on chilling injury development. Small peaches stored in air at 320F had a longer market life than large fruit. At both storage temperatures, large ‘Elegant Lady’ and ‘O'Henry’ peaches had a longer market life under controlled atmosphere than under air storage. However, at 380F, small ‘Elegant Lady’ fruit in controlled atmosphere showed browning in the flesh. This suggests that 17% CO2 + 6% O2 may induce flesh browning in small ‘Elegant Lady’ peaches. In both years, lack of juiciness (mealiness/leatheriness) was observed before the development of flesh browning. Thus market life depended on the incidence of mealiness/leatheriness rather than on flesh browning.
Cover crops, mulch lower night temperatures in citrus
by Neil V. O'Connell, Richard L. Snyder
Winter often brings cold temperatures that can damage fruit or foliage in the San Joaquin Valley, posing an economic threat to citrus producers. Our experiments show that cover crops or mulch can lower minimum nighttime temperatures 0.90F to 2.20F in orchards, increasing the threat of freeze (frost) damage. Wind machines are typically used to protect commercial acreage from frost by mixing warmer air aloft with colder air near the surface, thus maintaining warmer minimum temperatures within the orchard. In locations where wind machines are not cost effective, management of the orchard floor is even more important. By using temperature forecast models that adjust for cover crops and mulches, growers can use wind machines more efficiently. Regardless, the decision to use cover crops must take into account all of their cultural benefits and drawbacks.
editorial, news, letters & science briefs
New negotiations hold trade opportunities for agriculture
by Daniel A. Sumner
UC Berkeley launches landmark study
by Janet Byron
After decline, farm exports to gain ground