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Farm News Briefs

Mushroom Production Rises
To keep up with our growing appetite for mushrooms, California farmers have been increasing their production. In addition to familiar button mushrooms, more exotic species are also being raised on the state’s farms. Mushroom sales in the U.S. reached a record of more than $1 billion last year. California ranks as the second-largest producer of mushrooms, growing about 20 percent of the nation’s crop.
Harvested Produce Chills Out
Hot temperatures can lead to wilted produce. To combat the heat, farmers employ cooling technologies, including with the help of new inventions. Larger farms use coolers to keep produce at its optimal storage temperature to ensure freshness. Now, the University of California says smaller farms can use a micro-controller device to turn a well-insulated room with regular air conditioning into a successful produce-cooling room.
Navel Orange Harvest Ends
With the California navel orange harvest now ended for the season, estimates show the crop to be nearly on par with last year’s volume total. The U.S. Agriculture Department said it expects this year’s navel-orange crop to fill 90 million cartons, which would be 1 percent lower than last year. Each carton holds about 40 pounds of oranges. California farmers are now harvesting Valencia oranges, grapefruit and lemons.
California Cotton Acreage Down
California cotton acres are down from last year. California growers planted 120 thousand acres of Upland cotton and 210 thousand acres of of Pima.Upland is down 15% and Pima acres down 7%  from 2012.
Hay Acreage Down
California growers are expected to harvest alfalfa from 900 thousand acres – down about5% from last year.
Powder Milk Exports Higher
USDA reports that for the second straight month,milk exports increases were led by large shipments of milk powder. April-May exports of NDM/SMP were 111,173 tons, up 31% from the prior year. In May, a big chunk of the improvement came from new sales of 4,430 tons to Algeria, as well as increased sales to China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Sugar Surplus Headed Down
Record-breaking yields of sugar crops and a global surplus have driven down U.S. sugar prices, and U.S.D.A. is required to act to stabilize the domestic market,” the U.S.D.A. said. At the same time, the department is required by law to operate the sugar program at the least cost to the government.
“Today’s actions are designed to manage the sugar program while minimizing federal sugar program expenditures,” the U.S.D.A. said.
Domestic bulk refined sugar prices reported by Milling & Baking News currently are around 27c a lb f.o.b., down about 40% from a year ago and down 55% from 2011 highs.

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