Updated Fruit and Veg Consumption
U.S. Per Capita Fruit and Vegetable Dissappearance / Consumption (pounds)
Sources: Compiled by Roberta Cook from Economic Research Service, USDA: Fruit and Tree Nuts Situation and Outlook Yearbook, October 2012, Vegetables and Melons Situation and Outlook Yearbook, May 2012, and Vegetables and Pulses Outlook, September 2012.
According to John Robinson, Texas A&M AgriLife extension cotton economist, cotton prices are still adjusting to historic prices in 2010–2011 when $2-plus per pound cotton prices led to higher world production and reduced consumption. That set of circumstances led to record-high carryover stocks of cotton worldwide and weaker prices. Robinson says China accounts for about half of the world’s carryover stocks, and most of those are held off the shelf in government reserve.
“The combination of these bearish fundamentals and policy uncertainty sets the stage for what we may see in 2013,” he says. “We can certainly expect significant reductions in cotton acreage, starting with Australia, Brazil and Argentina last month.” With the strength in 2013 corn, soybean and wheat future prices, Robinson says there will likely be major shifts to grains and oilseeds in the mid-South and southeast. He projects if U.S. cotton planted dips to 8.9 million acres, “We could still see 14 million bales of production.”
Improving Wheat Yields: A Multinational Approach
“The Wheat Yield Network will aim to improve the yield potential of wheat by improving the physiology of the wheat plant itself, then combining those improvements with all other breeding objectives across governments and institutions,” says David Marshall, acting National Program Leader for USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, who is the U.S. government representative to the WYN. Representatives from 16 countries and international organizations recently agreed to launch the WYN initiative to increase wheat’s genetic yield potential by 50 percent in the next 20 years.
Educate Consumers on Pricing
In order to provide greater clarity on the true cost per serving for fruits and vegetables, the Produce Marketing Association commissioned the Perishables Group to conduct a study using its national supermarket fresh foods database. The goal—to determine the lowest average cost at any given time during the year for a consumer to meet dietary recommendations by purchasing nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day, while having variety in his or her diet.
On average, the cost for one consumer to purchase nine servings of fruits and vegetables from a traditional grocery store is $2.18. This includes the average of both full price and sale items. The average cost for a serving of fruit is 28 cents while a serving of vegetables is 21 cents. This data shows that a consumer, on average, will pay 25 cents per serving of fruits or vegetables. Even without benefit of sales or seasonal buying, fruits and vegetables offer consumers remarkable value.
Fruit and vegetable costs per serving are lowest in the fourth quarter for the total United States and in all regions of the country. However, the price fluctuation by quarter is relatively minor. The average cost for the total United States for nine fruit and vegetable servings peaks in the second quarter at $2.31 compared with $2.20 in the first quarter, $2.15 in the third quarter and $2.08 in the fourth quarter.
AVERAGE FRUIT/VEGETABLE COST PER SERVING
|TOTAL U.S.||FRUITS||VEGETABLES||NINE SERVINGS|
Source: Produce Marketing Association
Testing Drought Tolerant Hybrids
Qingwu Xue, a Texas A&M AgriLife research scientist, and his team have been evaluating drought-tolerant corn hybrids at the North Plains Research Field near Etter for the past two years. The hybrids were grown at three populations and at three irrigation levels, from full irrigation to limited irrigation. “At the full irrigation level, drought-tolerant hybrids hardly showed any yield gain as compared to the check hybrids,” Xue says. “However, the drought-tolerant hybrids showed yield increases of up to 20 bushels per acre at 75 percent and 50 percent evapotranspiration levels over the check, depending on hybrid and population.”
One of the most significant things Xue says they saw during the trials was better kernel set among the drought-tolerant corn compared to check hybrids. This could be, in part, due to the hybrids reaching moisture deep in the soil and developing root systems that go down deeper than the traditional hybrids. Another possibility is that the drought-tolerant hybrids may have the ability to conserve water by rolling the leaves during dry and hot periods, Xue says. “We clearly saw some yield benefits of the drought-tolerant hybrids at reduced irrigation levels as the drought-tolerant hybrids really did well exerting silks, even during very harsh conditions—dry and hot—at the same time tassels were shedding pollen.”