Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

This article was originally published in December 2015

Apple

Apple harvest wrapped up as much as a month ahead of normal this year — creating storage and marketing challenges for growers and warehouses still trying to clear out last year’s apples. A mild winter and early pollination pushed up everything that grows in Central Washington.

Northwest wild mushrooms are in short supply this year. Mushroom experts say an unusually dry summer and fall didn’t set a good crop. Then the rains came just in time to rot those that emerged.

Some ranchers across the United States reportedly are cutting neighbors’ fences and leaving gates open for their cattle to graze on greener pastures. With drought driving up prices for hay, some ranchers have sold huge portions of their herds because the worst drought in decades dried up their land and they can’t afford to buy feed.

Popcorn lovers may be seeing a spike in prices because summer drought in the Midwest dried up much of the nation’s crop. Retail prices for a 50-pound bag reportedly have jumped from about $20 to $30 or more. Prices for movie-theater popcorn are unlikely to spike because they’re already high.

As the climate warms, corn production is moving north. Farmers nationwide planted the most corn this year since 1937, but growers in Kansas sowed the fewest acres in three years, instead turning to less-thirsty crops such as wheat, sorghum and triticale. Corn acreage in Manitoba, Canada, about 700 miles north of Kansas, has nearly doubled over the past decade due to weather changes and higher prices.

Drought, animal disease and the rising cost of livestock feed significantly curbed the growth of meat production and consumption in 2011, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Global meat production rose to 297 million tons in 2011, an increase of 0.8 percent over 2010 levels. Meat production has risen 20 percent since 2001.

Also in this issue

Your co-op community, December 2015

Holiday Food Drive, Food Bank Packaging Parties, Green Lake Pathway of Lights, and more

News bites, December 2015

Washington second in organic sales, Fish retire?, Sunscreen harms coral reefs, and more

December wine tastings

Throughout the month we're hosting informal wine tastings at seven PCC stores. Whether you favor bold, rich reds or bubbly from near and far, you'll find delightful new choices for your holiday tables — or just for everyday drinking!