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Maine blueberry crop hit hard by disease, lack of pollination

Bad news for pie lovers. Maine’s wild blueberry crop is likely to be much smaller this year than in recent summers because the industry is contending with troubles such as disease and a lack of pollination. The New England state is the wild blueberry capital of the U.S. In recent years, crop sizes have soared and prices have plummeted. The crop grew a little less than one percent last year to almost 102 million pounds (46 million kilograms), while prices hit a 10-year low of 27 cents per pound to farmers. University of Maine horticulture professor David Yarborough says that is changing this year. He says “mummy berry” disease and other factors could cut the crop as much as 36 percent this summer. Because oversupply has been driving down prices in recent years, the farmers had already decreased their efforts with the fruit crop. Yarborough said a shortage of bees and other pollinators…

California drought sends avocado prices soaring

Guacamole and avocado toast are about to cost you a lot more green. Between an intense heat wave, summer drought and heavy winter rains, California, the nation’s leading avocado producer, has suffered a significant shortfall of fruits this year. Forecasts expect production to plunge as much as 46% to 215 million pounds, down from 401 million pounds in 2016. “We lost fruit that would have have sized up to be this year’s crop,”  Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, a trade group for avocado growers, told the Los Angeles Times. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of an avocado jumped to $1.25 last week — up from $1.14 last year at the same time and just 94 cents at the start of summer 2016. Mexico, the leading international avocado supplier to the U.S., suffered similar weather this year and is able to send fewer boxes across the border, adding…

Global vanilla shortage will see pastry, ice cream prices soar

The world-wide vanilla shortage is coming to an ice cream cone near you. Pastry chefs and ice cream makers alike are looking to cut back overall consumption due to the rising cost of fair-trade vanilla, meaning that the recipes of our favorite summer sweets could be effected. And we have no one but ourselves to blame. The high demand from consumers, in recent years, switching to all-natural foods has caused the shortage. The problem was then compounded by major corporations like Nestle and Hershey’s that, in response to consumer demand, declared they were then switching from cheaper, chemically created synthetic versions of vanilla to all-natural varieties, too — meaning that they want vanilla from orchid seeds, and not factories. Factories can crank out the synthetic stuff around the clock, but there just aren’t enough vanilla pods in the world to meet demand. A few years ago, a 1-gallon bottle of organic, fair-trade vanilla would cost about $64 — today,…

Southern peach shortage predicted for summer

If you’re from the south, chances are you know summer as the season for a seemingly endless supply of peaches. Peaches are such a part of Georgia that streets and schools bear their name, while the license plate and even ‘I voted’ stickers are adorned with their image. But growers say a massive shortage is in store for this year’s Southern crop. An ill-timed three-day freeze in March paired with an unseasonably warm winter has wiped out much of the Deep South’s peach crop. The already finicky fruit trees were so confused by the weather that many didn’t bear any fruit at all, leading some experts to estimate the production in Georgia will reach only about a quarter of what it was in 2016, when the state produced 43,000 tons of peaches. South Carolina is the country’s number two peach producing state — after California —  but its production numbers are looking just as bad. According to…