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Update on California Grown Garlic

The price differential between Chinese and California garlic is expected to be greater this year than it has been recently because of a larger Chinese crop than China has seen in the past three years. The California crop, expected to be up a little in volume from last year, is expected to be of very good quality with good yields, particularly on the California Early variety, which is the first variety harvested.
As of late July, the California Early harvest was pretty much finished and the California Late harvest was well under way. “Quality is very good,” said Bob Ehn, chief executive officer and technical manager of the California Garlic & Onion Research Advisory Board. “The only thing I might be concerned about is the California Late,” and that is a water issue. With severe cuts in federal water allocations on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Ehn was concerned that some growers may need to cut water off early on the garlic not yet harvested in order to use the water to keep permanent crops alive.
“The California Early garlic got the water it needed,” he said.

The water issue is expected to be of even greater concern next year, with early announcements that Westside growers should expect a zero federal allotment. That could affect planting decisions for next year, and it is something growers are concerned about. But for this year, none of the growers The Produce News talked to indicated that they expected to lose any planted acreage due to water shortages.
Industrywide, garlic acreage may be up about 5 percent, said Christopher.

According to the 2012 California Vegetable Crop Summary released in February by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, harvested garlic acreage in 2012 was 25,000 acres, up 1,000 acres from 2011.
“California garlic is excellent quality this year,” said Jim Provost, managing partner of I Love Produce LLC in Kelton, PA. “It is heavy to the mid-size range” such as super jumbo, so larger sizes such as colossals and super-colossals “are going to be at a premium.”

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