TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture joined with state experts to check thousands of acres of Florida's lucrative citrus crops for signs that the dreaded citrus canker has spread to infect additional groves of fruit-laden trees. The disease was first detected Jan. 5th south of Miami in lime groves, and required the bulldozing and burning of infected trees. Such drastic methods are the only remedy that destroys the highly contagious canker, which causes fruit to drop early from trees and covers the skin with unsightly lesions, though it is not harmful to humans. Commercial growers in Miami-Dade County report they have already lost half their crops in the the $20 million-a-year lime industry.
the WPVGA's Web site -- www.potatowis.org -- or by calling 715-623-7683.
Fresh-cut Processor Links Up With E-Commerce Site
IRWINDALE, Calif. -- Ready Pac Produce here has signed an agreement with ProduceOnline.com, Pasadena, Calif., to begin making on-line purchases of fruit and vegetables from grower/shippers and distributors. Similarly, the fresh-cut processor will begin requesting that its retail trade customers, including supermarkets and restaurants, start making purchases of all Ready Pac products electronically. Company officials said the decision to move on-line was part of a larger strategy to improve efficiencies, expedite service and remove costs from the distribution channel. The pact follows last October's announcement that Pro*Act, the Monterrey, Calif.-based produce-buying consortium, would also use ProduceOnline.com's e-commerce services.
Mushroom Council, Winery in Joint Promotion
DUBLIN, Calif. -- The Mushroom Council here has partnered with E&J Gallo Wineries, Modesto, Calif., in an "Entertaining Made Easy" promotion at more than 6,500 supermarkets through the end of March that features cents-off coupons on selected companion items and recipes. Other product lines in the retail effort include Ready Pac salads, DiGiornio cheese and regional pasta brands. At participating stores, a floor display sports graphics of entrees of the products, fresh mushrooms and Ecco Domani and Gallo of Sonoma wines. The fixture merchandises coupons for the other products, and recipe booklets for featured meals. The centers are being placed in the wine sections of supermarkets, according to officials.
Florida Testing New Strawberry Varieties
DOVER, Fla. -- Two new varieties of strawberries have been released for commercial growing by the University of Florida Agricultural & Education Center here. According to researchers, both the Earlibrite and Strawberry Festival fruits are sweet and received high ratings from consumer test panels. The Earlibrite peaks early in the season, just like the Florida's popular Sweet Charlie variety, though the new fruit is less suspectible to bruising, said officials. Strawberry Festival features deep red color, a traditional conical shape and fancy green tops, they said. Both varieties must still undergo development to determine sanitation and related parameters.
Organic Carrot Snacks Hit Stores
SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif. -- Earthbound Farm here has introduced the first snack packs containing organic produce, according to officials of the company, a grower/shipper of organic produce and fresh-cut salad mixes. The first product, A Natural Snack!, is three 2.25-ounce containers of peeled certified organic carrots with a separate well of all-natural ranch-style dip, which retails for $2.39. A Healthy Snack! includes three-ounce bags of peeled organic carrots bundled into packages of four. The products have shelf lives of 21 days and 30 days, respectively. The products are targeted at busy parents who shop for their children and students.