"Going into the cataclysms the weather will become unpredictable, with torrential rainstorms where not expected, and droughts likewise where not expected. Extremes of temperature will be experienced. Unusually warm winters, where the trees and shrubs will start to bud, thinking spring, and then be subjected to frost. Similarly, frosts will come late in the spring, almost into summer, killing the buds which have already put forth their tender shoots."  ZetaTalk - Crop Failure

This grim forecast from 1995 has become a reality.  In just the past 7 days, the following reports demonstrate the accuracy of yet another Zeta prediction heralding the return of Planet X.

April 19
Early Budding, Then Cold Snap, Takes Toll on Iowa Vineyards

Richard Black, of Farnhamville, shows the dead grape shoots that followed last week’s three nights of freezing temperatures. Black said the damage is “severe” and estimates at least 75 percent of his crop was ruined.

April 18
Hailstorms Annihilate California Fruit Crops

"I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven't even budded yet."

April 18

Wisconsin Cherry Growers Expect 50 Percent Loss From Frost Damage

"I've been doing this pretty much all my life. It's been here 130 years in the family, so I'm the fourth generation, so it's our livelihood," he says.  Robertson says he's been worrying about his trees, which he expects will produce about half the cherries they normally do this year. 

April 16
Cold Causes Devastating Loss for Michigan Grape Crop

Southwestern Michigan grape growers are reeling from last week’s freezing temperatures that seem to have wiped out the majority of this season’s grape crop.  “This is the worst situation we’ve had. ... This is devastating for southwest Michigan growers,"

April 14
Minnesota Apple Crop Crippled by Early Warmth Then Freeze

"It's essentially almost a total crop loss this year," said apple farmer Mike Perbix. Perbix owns Sweetland Orchard in Webster. He says he has lost more than 90 percent of his apple crop.

April 13
Huge Crop Losses in Portugal Due to Frost and Drought

Recent early morning frosts and the ongoing drought, have led to an almost total loss of production in a number of fruit and vegetable farms across the Algarve.

April 12
Frosts Damages Up to 90 Percent of Indiana Blueberry Crops

The overnight lows left some blueberry farms with plenty of damage during a season that had been expected to be the best in years. Some farms saw up to 90 percent damage to their crops.

Freeze Causes Widespread Damage to North Carolina Fruit

Cold temperatures Wednesday night caused widespread damage to fruit crops across Henderson County.  Apple trees bloomed two weeks early as a result of the mild winter, and that left them vulnerable to cold temperatures.



April 19
Early Budding, Then Cold Snap, Takes Toll on Iowa Vineyards

FARNHAMVILLE - Richard Black said he knew the killing frost was possible, even to be expected, but some part of him was hoping it wouldn't happen.  But it did.

Last week, with the first primary grape buds out and a month ahead of schedule, temperatures dipped at official measuring sites to 29 degrees and to 24 degrees on Tuesday. Twenty-eight degrees for four hours is considered a hard frost in farming terms.

But according to Black, his thermometer read 17 degrees overnight on Monday, 16 degrees overnight Tuesday and and in the 20s overnight Wednesday. That was enough, he said, to cause significant yield losses to his grapes, especially his early budding varieties.

"It was bad," Black said, who manages 1,600 grape vines in a 3-acre site around his rural Farnhamville home. "It was devastating."

When told that Mike White, Iowa State University's viticulturist, estimated the statewide grape yield loss at 50 percent, Black said, "That would be good news. But Mike is looking at the entire state."

According to White, vineyards north of I-80 were frost-bit more severely than those in southern Iowa counties.

Some growers attempted to keep heat among their vines, or continually spray water on their vines, and some tried spraying liquid potassium, which acts like an antifreeze to protect the buds during the freezing period, White said.

Black didn't try any of those measures.

"There's not a whole lot you can do," Black said. "Most efforts are not effective.

"The most you can do is give the vulnerable buds a 3- to 5-degree protection."

Once the temperature slips to below 25 degrees, all bets are off.

"And it's not like flowers; you can't just throw a blanket over them," Black said. "And we're not the only ones; the same happened to orchards too."

He said the primary buds of Marquette varieties were out to 3 inches long on Sunday. They looked green and lush. Some of the secondary buds were out, as well.

White and Black both said frost damage varies by cultivar and location. Early budbreak varieties, including Marquette, and low-lying areas normally receive the worst damage.

Black said before the frost, "It would be easy for someone to get overly optimistic. You look at the (vines) and think here's a chance to do a really good job by the book all season long.

"And well, here we are ..."

Black fully expects to see a 75 percent yield loss on his grapes.

"But we'll be able to tell better in about two weeks," he said.

He hires three workers throughout the growing season to tend his vineyard. Are they out of work now?

Not at all, Black said. Half of all the work on vine husbandry is for the current crop and half is for the next year's crop.

"The crop is gone," he said, "but we still have to do everything as if it's otherwise, only there's no income coming in."

Crop insurance on grapes? Forget about it, Black said.

"There is insurance, but you can't afford it," he said. The reason is that, unlike corn and soybeans, the sheer numbers of growers are not sufficient to share the risk, so insurance rates are high on grapes.

According to White, there are only 300 Iowa vineyards, cultivating grapes on 1,200 acres statewide.

"This frost did not kill any vines," White said. "It only set us back. The industry will continue to grow."

Disappointed about the frost damage and the lost yields, Black said he tries not to get too down. "I'm not the only one this happened to."

Ajay Nair, an ISU Extension vegetable specialist, said he noticed damage to fruit blossoms at the Horticulture Research Station near Gilbert after the April 10 frost and temperatures were even colder April 11.

Paul Domoto, an ISU Extension fruit specialist, said the temperature dipped to 20 degrees at the horticultural station, a temperature that damages plants, but especially those near the ground, like strawberries. Strawberries are most vulnerable at bloom, however, only the earliest cultivars have reached this stage of development.

The problem with the fruit crops is that the early spring weather sped up blooming, which is a particularly sensitive stage for the plants. Domoto said although there has been damage it's too early to say how bad the freezes were until growers can assess the conditions in their areas, because site conditions and stage of bud and/or shoot development will have a significant influence on the extent of injury.

Nick Howell, superintendent of the Horticultural Research Station, doesn't expect much of an apple crop because of the freezes. He confirmed there was "significant damage" to the station's vineyard and strawberries. Apple trees typically are "in jeopardy" until the middle of May, he said.

Unfortunately, Howell said the expense of pest management in the apple orchard must be maintained even though there are few, if any, apples produced.

April 18
Hailstorms Annihilate California Fruit Crops

A series of freak April storms hammered the San Joaquin Valley last week, damaging vulnerable crops with a one-two-three punch of hail, lightning and tornados that caused millions of dollars of crop losses.

It will be several weeks before an accurate tabulation of losses can be made, but for some growers it amounted to 100 percent of this year's production. A number of crops suffered damage from the unrelenting power of hailstones measuring 1.5 inches in diameter or larger.

Nature's fury came in the form of "supercells"—large thunderstorms that moved slowly across the valley from Kings County, through parts of Tulare County, up to Merced County and all the way eastward to Mariposa County.

The most destructive storm brought torrents of hail across a six-to-eight mile-wide swath of farmland that extended some 30 miles, accompanied by thunderstorms and numerous lightning strikes.

The epicenter of the more significant of two supercells last Wednesday was in Tulare County near Traver. Grower Ed Needham, who was caught driving near Traver when the storm struck, described it as "the sound of someone hitting my truck with a hammer."

Needham said he was in his truck with two other farmers and had pulled over to watch a huge storm cell to the south when the other cell struck from the north.

"It started out small and was no big deal and then all of a sudden the side-view mirrors on my truck shattered and the road started getting covered with huge hailstones. I looked at the wind and saw that it was going south, so I took off and went to the south and got out of it," he said.

Steve Johnson, a storm chaser with Atmospheric Group International, tracked the storms closely and estimated that the damage to agriculture could reach $25 million or more just from the two supercells that hit last Wednesday afternoon.

"While other thunderstorms were moving at about 25 miles per hour, these two slugs were moving at about 7 or 8 miles an hour, so they just trudged along producing very large hail and a high quantity of lightning," he said. "I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven't even budded yet."

Johnson also reported that a third supercell formed over farmland west of Lemoore, producing a tornado, and another one popped up near Huron, causing considerable crop damage to Westside lettuce and tomato fields.

The following day, a supercell formed in Merced County near Dos Palos and moved northeast between Atwater and Merced, once again accompanied by huge hailstones.

"The hailstones were larger than those on the previous day. There was 1 3/4-inch hail that was recorded near Castle Air Force Base, causing a lot of crop damage as well as other damage before moving up into Mariposa County," Johnson said.

John Diepersloot, one of the owners of Kingsburg Orchards, which grows peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots, said the storms wiped out some orchards while leaving adjacent ones unscathed. He said several of his orchards were struck and that while the visible damage is obvious, it will be several days before any accurate assessment can be made.

"Where the hail hit, it is a complete, 100 percent loss. It was hitting in cells, so one area was a complete disaster and another area got missed," he said. "Some of the fields look like they got beat up pretty bad. Most of the apricots, cherries, pluots and plums got scratched up pretty bad or even knocked off the trees."

Diepersloot also noted damage to other crops, particularly grapes and newly transplanted processing tomatoes.

"The tomatoes on certain blocks were stripped down. The transplants had leaves ripped off. The grapes had everything from tender, new shoots to the bark itself torn off. A lot of guys are planting their corn, but it isn't up yet, so that is still in the ground," he said.

John Thiesen, general manager of Giumarra Brothers Fruit Co. of Reedley, said he is still trying to assess the losses, and that enough fruit to fill from 5 million to 12 million boxes may have been lost.

"That is a pretty big span, so no one really knows for sure. But we do know there is very significant damage," he said.

Thiesen said the magnitude of last week's hailstorms was stunning.

"One doesn't see this kind of devastation very often. I know for us here, we were fortunate to escape, but the emotions are such that we feel just awful for all our grower friends who were affected. It is heartbreaking," he said.

Michael Miya, who farms walnuts, pistachios and field crops such as wheat, corn and onions for seed north of Hanford, said this was the worst hailstorm he has ever witnessed.

"We inspected the damage to our walnuts and it chopped a lot of the young leaflets. It covered the ground in green where the hail went through. We are concerned with the nuts that are already set on the trees," he said. "Some of my neighbors with almonds say they lost about a third of their crop, some less and some more, depending on where they were located. One of my neighbors with cherries said he has probably lost 80 percent of his crop."

Johnson, a severe-weather specialist who provides private weather forecasting for farming operations, utility companies and irrigation districts in the San Joaquin Valley, said it has been at least 20 years since something this severe struck the region.

"I feel really bad for the farmers who have been annihilated, because they work very hard," he said.

April 18
Wisconsin Cherry Growers Expect 50 Percent Loss From Frost Damage

For many, Door County cherries are a Northeast Wisconsin tradition.

But for Kris Robertson, the owner of Robertson Orchards, they're so much more than just that.

"I've been doing this pretty much all my life. It's been here 130 years in the family, so I'm the fourth generation, so it's our livelihood," he says.

Robertson says he's been worrying about his trees, which he expects will produce about half the cherries they normally do this year.

That's because our unusually warm March caused the buds to start developing about a month early. And now with the chilly weather and overnight freezes, some are already damaged.

"Oh yeah, there's a lot of blossoms I open up. The pistils are black, which shows that they should be dead so they're not going to bloom," says Robertson.

UW-Madison agricultural researcher Matt Stasiak says this a common problem for Door County cherry growers this season.

He conducted a sample study a few weeks ago.

"We looked at, as we do every winter, a number of buds and we were seeing a fair amount of damage, the average was about 70- to 75 percent of flower buds were damaged," says Stasiak.

Stasiak says we won't see the full impact of this inclement weather until harvest in June.

In the meantime, cherry growers like Kris Robertson will be getting a lot less sleep.

"Oh, it keeps you up at night worrying, but there's nothing you can do. You just have to hope that the weather changes and you get some crop out of it," says Robertson.

April 16
Cold Strangles Southwest Michigan Grape Crop - Loss Called 'Devasta...

It’s not sour grapes, it’s fact: Southwestern Michigan grape growers are reeling from last week’s freezing temperatures that seem to have wiped out the majority of this season’s grape crop.

Although fruit growers in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties are still assessing the damage, it appears that virtually the entire grape crop grown for Welch's Foods in southwest Michigan has been lost.

Unusually high temperatures at an unusually early time made the plants bud early, making them susceptible to temperatures that dipped into the 20s.

John Jasper, area manager with the National Grape Cooperative Association, which owns Welch's, oversees 250 farmers and 12,000 acres. Of those farmers, he said, more than 90 percent of their primary buds died.

There’s a “glimmer of hope” for some secondary growth to push out a little later but as Jasper pointed out, for most farmers that’s not going to pay the bills or perhaps even make it economical to harvest the few grapes that are left.

“This is the worst situation we’ve had. ... This is devastating for southwest Michigan growers," he said.

According to Jasper, Welch's gets about 17 percent of its grapes from the area, perhaps prompting the company to change recipes for some of its products.

At Bixby Orchards in Berrien Springs, Patricia Bixby said the damage was similar to a 1997 hailstorm that also wiped out the farm’s grape crop. Cherries, she said, “don’t look too bad,’’ adding strawberries will be OK thanks to irrigation that insulated them against the 29-degree cold.

As for apples, she said, she and her husband Paul might lose 75 percent of their crop.

'You just go on,' she said.

The news was better at the Lemon Creek Winery where Jeff Lemon, a business partner and wine maker, said 140 acres of wine grapes offer enough varieties, and in such a wide range of development, that all won’t be lost.

“Some of the buds were still pretty tight. Those came through a little better,’’ he said.

The farm also features peaches, apples and cherries, with apples taking the biggest hit of the three, he said.

At Round Barn Winery in Baroda, wine maker Matt Moersch said he expects some of the younger varieties of grapes will have a 40 to 60 percent loss but older varieties may lose just 10 percent. Retails prices for the winery’s wines shouldn’t be affected this year but could go up in 2013, although not dramatically, he said.

At the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, Herb Teichman said the few grapes he grows for personal use are “in good shape’’ but some varieties of apple trees didn’t fare as well.

“With some (apples), there was very little (damage) but some others were quite serious,’’ he said.

Tart cherries also had some damage but Teichman said he’ll still have a crop to harvest.

“It’s a reduction but not a wipeout by any means,’’ he said.

Federal government relief could be forthcoming for some grape growers, most likely in the form of low-interest loans. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, is on record stating grape growers deserve relief.

The apple crop at Kercher's Sunrise Orchards in Goshen was also heavily damaged, the owner said Sunday.

April 14
Minnesota Apple Crop Crippled by Early Warmth Then Freeze

"It's essentially almost a total crop loss this year," said apple farmer Mike Perbix. Perbix owns Sweetland Orchard in Webster. He says he has lost more than 90 percent of his apple crop.

The reason is two-fold.

The warm weather we saw recently back caused many of his apple flowers to bloom. But then this week's freeze left them uncovered and unprotected. "You open it up and all you see is black right in there. And you can tell that's not going to produce anything viable," said Perbix when he opened up a flower bud.

That brings us to the consumer side of this story.

What does it mean for those who like to eat an apple a day? The short answer: it is still too early to tell.

"Our producers, they're really just beginning to understand what happened to them," said Gary Johnson with Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville.

There are two ways consumers may be affected if this wacky weather continues.

First, experts believe there is a good chance the local selection will not be as good. "So what they might find is more apples are coming from out state. You may see more apples come in from Washington for example," he said.

The second way this year's apple crop may bite consumers is at the checkout counter. Prices may go up. However, at Valley Natural Foods, their apple producer has not seen a problem with its crop yet. "They're going to provide apples to their whole sale partners at last year's prices," said Johnson.

David Bedford is a researcher and apple breeder with the University of Minnesota. He says he has never seen the apple crop start so early in his 32 years of breeding. "It's very unusual," he said. "But we're not in disaster mode yet."

He says most crops only need about 15 percent of the flowers to produce a healthy amount of apples. Typically, apple flowers come out of dormancy around May 15; this year it is at least a month early.

"We should know more in three weeks," he said of the extent of the apple crop damage.

Back at the orchard in Webster, Perbix knows where he stands. His apple money is all but gone for this year, thankful his wife is not in the family business. "The best insurance policy is that my wife works off the farm," he said.

April 13
Huge Crop Losses in Portugal Due to Frost and Drought

Recent early morning frosts and the ongoing drought, have led to an almost total loss of production in a number of fruit and vegetable farms across the Algarve.

The Association of Farmers of Faro and Surrounding Councils, which represents the majority of fruit and vegetable producers in the region, has said it is unhappy with government measures announced on Monday, adding that some of its members are on the verge of bankruptcy and despair.

The drought impact is confirmed by an official report dated March 13th, which states a 50% loss of greenhouse vegetables in the Algarve - especially in Faro and Olhão.

The report highlights the losses caused by frosts in the greenhouses to tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans and melon. in addition it says that open air crops such as broad beans, peas and potatoes have been affected. In relation to citrus fruit, the report says that the fall in production is "significant."

"I have lost 80 percent of my tomato plantation, which corresponds to a total loss because no one is going to water and pick the remaining 20 percent," said 44- year-old Paulo Cristina, who has six hectares of greenhouses on the outskirts of Faro.

With 120 tonnes of tomatoes lost, and with the selling price of tomatoes at 45 cents per kilogram, he calculates that he has lost €54,000, corresponding to half a year’s work.

Mr. Cristina awaits EU funds that have been promised by the Ministry of Agriculture, but says he is angry about the lack of available insurance to cover such events.

Similarly, the President of the Regional Agricultural Association, Ana Lopes, laments that insurance companies don’t provide policies adapted to each region, as "each area of the country is unique and has its own agriculture."

April 12
Frosts Damages Up to 90 Percent of Indiana Blueberry Crops

The overnight lows left some blueberry farms with plenty of damage during a season that had been expected to be the best in years. Some farms saw up to 90 percent damage to their crops.

Local farmers said the combination of warm winter months with the recent frosts was too much for certain varieties of blueberry bushes to handle.

“The real situation was a month ago when we had that beautiful weather, when everyone was just so happy,” Pick-N-Patch owner Sam Erwin said. “I’m going this is horrible weather. It brought all the fruit out early. “

The more advanced the blueberries are, the more that is at stake when a freeze warning goes into effect.

“Some of the earlier varieties were hurt a lot more,” Erwin said. “We have some that were almost 100 percent lost.”

April 12
Freezing Temps Causes Widespread Damage to Fruit Crops in North Car...

Cold temperatures Wednesday night caused widespread damage to fruit crops across Henderson County, according to Marvin Owings, county extension director.

"And we still have tonight," Owings said Thursday, referring to a freeze watch in effect through today's predawn hours. It will be a few days before growers can assess the extent of the damage to their crops, he added. "It is almost impossible to determine how bad it is the day after a freeze," Owings said.

Temperatures Wednesday night and Thursday morning fell to between 25 and 28 degrees in some areas. Temperatures 28 degrees and below can impair the fruits' growth cycle, Owings said.

Apple trees bloomed two weeks early as a result of the mild winter, and that left them vulnerable to cold temperatures.

"They are in full bloom, and that is the most critical stage of development," Owings said.

Farmers will check today to see whether Thursday night's temperatures caused more damage. The National Weather Service was forecasting a low around 32 degrees.

Henderson County grower Kenny Barnwell said Thursday that frost had ravaged his 10 acres of peach trees in Edneyville. "They were hurt pretty bad," Barnwell said. "I saw a lot of dead peaches."

His apple crop also was affected.

"A couple varieties (of apples) were severely damaged," Barnwell said.

Peach and strawberry growers in Upstate South Carolina reported that their crops had not been affected by the cool overnight temperatures, and some farms in Henderson County were spared.

"So far (the peach crops) are OK because the peaches' blooms have come and gone on most varieties," Danny McConnell said.

On Thursday, McConnell said it was too soon to tell whether the cold had impacted his apple trees in Dana, but he expected them to be fine.

It takes about 24 hours after a cold night to notice any damage to the apple blossoms, McConnell said.

Local strawberry growers said they were taking precautions to protect the soft fruits.

J.D. Obermiller had a long night Wednesday as temperatures dipped into the upper 20s at his strawberry farm in Horse Shoe.

He started the irrigation system at 2 a.m. to protect his crop, and by 10 a.m. Thursday, the last bit of ice melted off the strawberries.

"The berries look good," Obermiller said. "The blooms look bright and shiny."

McConnell kept his strawberries covered with plastic to protect them from freezing temperatures, but he planned to uncover them today because warmer weather is in the forecast.

High temperatures are expected to be in the 70s and low 80s this weekend, with lows between 40 and 55 degrees.

As he waited out the freeze threat on Thursday, Obermiller was hoping for minimal frost exposure, but he was prepared. "If need be," Obermiller said, "we'll sprinkle them again."

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Comment by KM on July 8, 2016 at 9:23pm


(from Google Translate)

Canned deficit expected after hail damage in the south

Interbranch FNLI therefore joins the previous call of farmers and local governments to the weather havoc to disaster proclaim.

Because of all the water on the fields in North Brabant and Limburg harvesting peas, green beans, carrots and other summer vegetables largely lost. Which actually had to be processed into long-life products in jar, canned and frozen.


'' This can not be compensated by supplies from abroad, because there is talk of significant water damage, quite apart from the fact that these vegetables abroad but are very limited, '' said FNLI director Philip den Ouden. '' It is very likely that there is a shortage on the supermarket shelves will result in typical Dutch vegetables and frozen vegetables. ''

Also, new crops of vegetables, such as green beans, can result in problems, because it is by the wet soil is now not possible to sow. It is not still see the industry as to what extent the cultivation of autumn crops such as cabbage, red cabbage and beetroot, has been damaged.

FNLI mentions the impact of severe weather such an exceptional and large that active government is necessary. The organization regrets therefore very pleased that Secretary Martijn van Dam of Economic Affairs sees no opportunities to provide structural support to the sector.

Comment by M. Difato on June 29, 2016 at 7:16pm

Hungary: Considerable hail damage to cucumbers and other crops


Hail has caused significant damage east of the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county, in the districts of Csenger and Fehérgyarmat, reported the president of the Hungarian Fruit and Vegetable Interprofessional Organisation and Product Board (FruitVeB), Ledó Ferenc, last Friday.

Mr Ferenc stated that around 280-300 hectares of cucumbers were almost completely destroyed. According to experts, 75 percent of the plantations may recover from the ravages of the ice, but a significant yield loss is expected.

The president of FruitVeB reminded 95 percent of the cucumbers intended for canning are supplied by small farms and family gardens and run by local authorities within the framework of the public works programs. Because of this, the hail damage could result in major social problems, given the expected loss of income.

The two districts have a total of about 4,000 hectares of orchards, of which about 2,800 hectares are devoted to apples, 500 to cherries and 300 to plums, among other crops. About 70 percent of the plantations have been affected by the hail. The extent of damage oscillates between 30 and 100 percent. In cases where the shoots and buds have been hit by the ice (about 20 percent of the plantations), next year's crop may have also been affected, stated Mr Ferenc.

Source: agronaplo.hu
Comment by Howard on May 8, 2016 at 5:57am

Many Austrian Fruit Farmers Face Total Crop Failure (May 4)

The cold snap of last week has led to massive damage in large parts of Styria. According to a preliminary estimation 80% of the fruit harvest has been destroyed and the damage is estimated at about 100 million Euro.

After the difficult weather conditions in 2014 and 2015 Agricultural Chamber president Franz Titschenbacher now fears another disappointing harvest this year. “It would be very sad if the fruit growers have to cope again with huge losses.”

Particularly the 2,000 apple farmers in Styria are affected, many have to deal with the expectation of a total crop failure. The first calculations show damage of the fruit crops (wine and pumpkins excluded) of about 100 million Euro.

The politician Johann Seitinger wants to check how much of the damage can be covered by the insurance. “It is really a gigantic disaster. You should imagine that more than 2,000 farmers and their families have lost their yearly income in one night. And you have to consider the economics behind it, on the one hand we have to convince the farmers to hang in there, and help and hope that the natural disasters will decrease. On the other hand we have to expand the insurance possibilities.”



Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on April 12, 2016 at 1:55am


Northwest Scientists Hope To Save The Citrus Industry

April 11, 2016

A Florida orange tree affected by citrus greening disease. It's caused by a bacterium that is spread by a small insect.

Orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime orchards are being wiped out across Florida from a plague called citrus greening disease. A team of scientists from Washington State University in Pullman is studying the bacterium that causes the condition. They hope to find a cure.

David Gang, a biological chemist at Washington State University, said the bacterium that causes greening disease is transmitted by a psyllid, a winged insect about half the size of a fruit fly, which spreads it from tree to tree.

When the bacteria get into a tree’s vascular system, it clogs it up, preventing the flow of nutrients.

“It eventually causes the roots to start to die. And then eventually the tree just dies,” said Gang.

According to Gang, Florida is in danger of losing its citrus industry.

“Yes, seriously. It’s very possible that in five years it will mostly be gone, if something isn’t done to fight it,” said Gang.

When a citrus tree is infected, the fruit on the branches stays green and never ripens, which is how the disease got its name. To figure out a cure, scientists need to be able to culture the bacterium.

This requires growing it in a petri dish and making it regenerate. This would allow scientists to study it and figure out what could make the bacterium die without killing a tree. So far, no one has been able to grow the bacterium in a lab. Gang and his team of researchers hopes to be the first.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving the Washington State University researchers more than $2 million to try and solve this puzzle.

In Florida, citrus greening disease has caused a 75 percent drop in citrus production since 2001.  

The disease has spread to Texas and California.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on April 7, 2016 at 12:40am


Continuing waves of cold in northeast US damaging fruit trees with ...

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 08:30 UTC

Ongoing waves of cold during early April are taking a toll on fruit tree blossoms in parts of the northeastern United States.
Farmers are holding their breath as they wait out the cold to inspect the impact on trees and vines.
The combination of a very mild winter, above-average temperatures during March and the most recent bout of below-freezing temperatures have caused damage to some fruit crops.
"The amount of damage varies from orchard to orchard and from tree to tree," according to Jason Coopey, co-owner of Way Fruit Farm in Stormstown, Pennsylvania.
Coopey stated that thus far apricots and plums have sustained the most damage, but overall his orchards, which are on the tops of hills have fared better than some locations farther south and east and those located in valleys, where the cold air tends to settle.
"We expect significant losses, 90-100 percent of peaches and plums, now at full bloom," according to Chris Harner, of Harner Farms in State College, Pennsylvania.
"Apples are farther behind [in central Pennsylvania] but are entering sensitive stages where we can have damage or loss," Harner said.
Fruit trees in the blossoming stage, as opposed to budding, are very susceptible to damage with temperatures in the middle to upper 20s.

According to the Fruit Tree Production Guide, compiled by the Pennsylvania State University, a 90 percent kill of apples, cherries and peaches can occur with temperatures of about 25 F for 30 minutes. However, the damage at specific temperatures varies from variety to variety.
Additional waves of cold air will follow through the second weekend of April.
A warmup prior to the end of the week could do more harm than good. The brief warmup could push some trees on the verge to blossom and vines to bud break before cold returns.
"The prior warmth is what contributed to blossoming of some trees three to four weeks ahead of average," Coopey said.
There were some days in southern and eastern Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey, where temperatures jumped into the 70s to near 80.

As of late March, the weather has remained chilly enough in much of the New York state Finger Lakes region to prevent or limit bud break of most varieties of grapes, according to Cornell University.

However, the cold blast in mid-February, which was surrounded by mild conditions much of the winter, caused significant damage to some non-native varieties of grapes in the Finger Lakes region. Low temperatures during the outbreak dipped to between minus 18 to minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
"As long as temperatures stay where they are projected, we should be okay," according to Timothy Merwarth, of Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard located in Dundee, New York.
Grape growers will utilize wind machines and bonfires where practical, as needed, during cold waves.
There is concern for damage from the cold to vineyards, similar to fruit trees, farther south in the mid-Atlantic region since bud break was further along farther south.
Another cold wave will invade the Midwest and Eastern states this weekend.
"Moderate cold with a little wind is okay and better than a heavy frost with very low temperatures," Coopey said.
The full scope of the damage may not be realized until the trees and vines are setting fruit later this spring.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on December 4, 2015 at 12:47am


An Unstoppable Fungus Disease Is Wiping Out the World's Banana Plants

A fungus plague destroyed the fruit's Gros Michel strain. Now another is destroying the Cavendish strain.

Banana lore has long held that the bright yellow variety of the fruit — the world’s fourth-most valuable food product after rice, wheat, and milk — is a mere shadow of the banana our grandparents would’ve enjoyed.

The Cavendish strain that we enjoy as nature’s energy bar thrives today largely because the previous favorite banana strain, the Gros Michel, starred in the first industrial cultivation of the fruit in the 1800s. At the end of that century, a contagious, durable fungus began afflicting plantations with what came be known as Panama disease — a fatal wasting that within a few decades wiped the Gros Michel off the map. Bananas, a monoculture, do not reproduce sexually, and are propagated agriculturally as genetic clones. The wrong bug can bring them all down.

We’ve known for a while that Cavendish, as well, would be susceptible to a similar fate. Well, it’s happening, and the consequences could be catastrophic for the $11 billion banana trade and for the many millions of people, particularly in poorer countries, that depend on the fruit for sustenance. A study out of Wageningen University in the Netherlands has found that a cousin of the Panama disease that has been percolating in Asia and the Pacific is sure to cross the Atlantic.

Tropical Race 4, likely related to the Tropical Race 1 that killed the Gros Michel, was first identified in the mid-Nineties after an outbreak in Taiwan. But the industry was slow to react, the researchers write in “Worse Comes to Worst: Bananas and Panama Disease—When Plant and Pathogen Clones Meet,” published in PLOS Pathogens in November. No one found a replacement to the Cavendish. After TR4 swept through parts of China, Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia, it made its way to the Middle East. Quarantine has so far proved ineffective; Africa and the Western Hemisphere are likely to follow.

Quartz, which previously drew parallels between bananas’ vulnerability and the Irish potato famine, notes that, worldwide, TR4 “is able to kill more than four-fifths of those bananas poor farming communities rely on for food.”

The fungus is so durable and far-ranging that the Cavendish may be a total loss. The future of bananas depends on finding another strain that will resist the infection. Chances are that version may be runty, misshapen, weirdly colored, or less tasty than the gleaming yellow specimens you find now in the grocery. Enjoy them while you can.

Comment by KM on October 28, 2015 at 12:01pm


Three hails storms hit WA's eastern Wheat belt, wreak havoc, destroy crops


Crops have been destroyed in Western Australia's eastern Wheatbelt this weekend with a night of successive hail storms.

Three separate bouts of hail hit the town of Southern Cross and the surrounding farming district on Sunday night, wreaking havoc on crops ripe for harvest.

It was the second hail storm in as many weeks to dash the hopes of farmers at the end of what had been a relatively good season.

Agronomist Gary Kenwood of Southern Cross owns the only farm supply store in town.

Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.

He said it was yet another disappointing finish to the season for grain growers who have been battling dry seasons for a decade.

"It's been a very, very hard ten years," he said.

"The last six have been definite droughts, the two beforehand were certainly less than average seasons.

"It looked liked the planets had lined up and we would eventually get to put headers into a crop and now it's all turned pear-shaped again."

Comment by Howard on August 24, 2015 at 12:37am

Alberta Declares Province-Wide Agricultural Disaster (Aug 21)

Canada's Alberta government on Friday declared a province-wide agricultural disaster as a result of extreme weather conditions.

The main culprits affecting Alberta crops are drought in the spring and hail this summer.

About 80 per cent of Alberta's farmers have been impacted by the drought. The AFSC anticipates paying out $700 million to $900 million in claims this year. About $70 million has been paid so far.

It's not hard to see why. The above map, from Alberta's agriculture department, shows some parts of the province have experienced 1-in-50 and 1-in-100 year drought conditions so far this summer.

"The issue is we didn’t get the rain when we needed it. Right now, it’s too lit­tle, too late. The dam­age to the crops has al­read­y occurred," Agriculture Minister Oniel Carlier told the Edmonton Journal.

Carlier also said the Alberta government may seek additional support from Ottawa, noting Saskatchewan has suffered as well.

Several Alberta municipalities have unilaterally declared agricultural disasters over the past few weeks, hoping to push the provincial government in Edmonton to follow suit with a general declaration.

As it is, the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation has already paid out more than $1 billion to 80 per cent of drought-stricken farmers, according to the Journal, while CBC reports crop yields are expected to be about a quarter of the five-year-average.





Comment by lonne rey on June 4, 2015 at 10:24am

Frost forces farmers to reseed canola


Last weekend’s cold weather has caused significant damage to canola fields across southern Manitoba, leaving many area farmers filing insurance claims and reseeding.

Comment by KM on May 31, 2015 at 1:05am


Texas farmers facing 'total loss for this year'

Texas farmers facing 'total loss for this year'

Farms across Texas and surrounding states are flooded and waterlogged, leaving farmers who had been looking at bumper crops now worried.

Texas' farmers were among the first to applaud the rain that abruptly halted a grueling multiyear drought that had tormented the region.

But what began as a blessing has turned quickly into a disaster, as corn and wheat crops rot in flooded fields.

"I think it is not all farmers, but some farmers are looking at a total loss for this year," said Mike Barnett, a spokesperson for the Texas Farm Bureau. "You have some situations where farmers had a bumper crop, and now they have next to nothing for the season."

The downpour has doused Texas with 35 trillion gallons-about the amount it would take to cover the entire state in eight inches of water, according to NBC News.

Fields are either flooded or too muddy to work in, so crops left unharvested are deteriorating, resulting in lower-quality product that will bring less at market.

The 1,700 acres of winter wheat Ben Wible has on his farm in Sherman should have been pulled already, but he has stayed away as the rain continues to soak his fields. Forecasters are predicting more rain and flooding this weekend, Wible told CNBC.

"Every drop of rain we get now is detrimental to us now," Wible said.

The wheat on Jay Davis' farm in North Central Texas has grown so tall it is beginning to fall over, and the grain is starting to sprout. Once wheat sprouts, it cannot be sold for human consumption, so Davis may have to sell what he can salvage as livestock feed. He won't get as good a price for it, and he will have to compete with other feed crops such as corn. Moreover, there isn't a lot of demand for livestock feed in his area, so he will have to weigh whether it's worth the cost of transporting the grain elsewhere.

"We don't know what the market for this crop is going to be, even if it is harvested," Davis said.

The delayed wheat harvest could lead to bottlenecks all through that crop's supply chain-the harvesting crews that go from farm to farm to help clear fields will have to rush, and there could be backups at local grain elevators and flour mills, Davis said. Those businesses aren't pulling in the revenue they would normally expect at this point of the year either, and may have to do with reduced supply from local farmers this year.

"The key thing here is, even if this crop is harvested, we have disrupted the normal flow of harvest operations from south to north," he said. "We are crowding the ability of those crews and machinery to move, because we are going to have a large area stretching across Texas into Oklahoma and other states that is going to be harvesting all at the same time. That is going to stretch the ability of the harvest crews to cover that acreage."

Because the winter and early spring crops are still in the ground, farmers cannot plant their summer crops, so that season is delayed, as well. A lot of people could not plant their corn, Wible said.

Cotton farmers in Texas have planted just under a third of their intended crop for the year, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture data cited by Reuters. That is far less than the 47 percent they had in the ground at this time last year, and even further below the five-year average of 50 percent, according to Reuters.

And the corn that some have managed to get into the ground is suffering under the water. Too much water can stunt the crop and cause it to turn yellow; both conditions either reduce or eliminate its value, depending on the severity.

A lot of farmers are saying they may have to collect on federal crop insurance, but the deadline to apply for corn insurance is May 31, and many farmers are not ready to pull the trigger, according to Reuters.

While crop insurance will give many farmers the chance to start over next year, it will not cover all of their losses from this season.

"I have heard people say, 'Well, at least you have crop insurance,' " Davis said. "Well, OK, but that's like saying it's OK to get into a car crash because you have auto insurance. All it does it mitigate losses. It is no way to profit or prosper."

In addition, Davis said the situation will likely saddle him with higher premiums next year.

Consumers will probably not feel much pain in their wallets from the losses in Texas-bad weather there will just create selling opportunities for growers elsewhere.

As for the Texans, many will salvage what they can and keep going.

"I have been farming almost my whole life, and it has been good to me," Wible said. "We got through the drought, and we will get through this."

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