Despite drought, California almond acreage rose 6 percent in 2015 – Orchards, Nuts & Vines – Capital Press

Despite drought, California almond acreage rose 6 percent in 2015

Tim Hearden/Capital Press A new almond orchard near Tracy, Calif., is in its first growing season. Overall almond acreage in California increased by 6 percent in 2015, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Tim Hearden/Capital Press A new almond orchard near Tracy, Calif., is in its first growing season. Overall almond acreage in California increased by 6 percent in 2015, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service

SACRAMENTO — The drought has done little to slow the growth of almond acreage in California, as the more than 1.1 million overall acres planted in 2015 was 6 percent more than the previous year.

Of last year’s total plantings, 890,000 acres were bearing and 220,000 acres were non-bearing, and preliminary bearing acreage for this year is estimated at 900,000 acres, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reports.

The increase came despite removals of about 45,000 acres of trees in 2015 — much of which occurred after harvest — and continues a trend in which acreage has doubled in the last 20 years, according to government and industry statistics.

However, the Almond Board of California downplays the trend’s impact on water resources, citing studies that found most new acreage has replaced other irrigated crops and the total amount of water used by agriculture has held steady since 2000.

“Almonds take up about 14 percent of the state’s irrigated farmland but use 9.5 percent of California’s agricultural water — less than a proportionate share,” board president and chief executive officer Richard Waycott said in a statement. “Because of the industry’s commitment to research and efficiency, growers use 33 percent less water to grow a pound of almonds than they did two decades ago.”

As lucrative prices have continued to encourage growers to switch to nuts from other crops, the almond board has fought diligently in the past couple of years to rebut critics who charge the industry places too much of a burden on the environment. Last summer, the board set aside $2.5 million in research into water efficiency, honeybee health and best practices for the current fiscal year.

The board argues that almond trees provide certain benefits to the environment, including groundwater recharge potential and carbon sequestration.

Even as drastic cutbacks in surface water during the drought have prompted some growers in the San Joaquin Valley to remove trees, Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera counties still led the state in 2015 in terms of acreage, combining for 73 percent of California’s bearing orchards, according to NASS.

Nonpareils continued to be the leading variety with 310,646 total acres in 2015, followed by Monterey (102,299), Butte (86,152), Carmel (81,449) and Padre (55,493), the agency reported.

The estimates were based on a voluntary survey sent to about 6,000 almond growers as well as almond nursery sales and pesticide application data maintained by county agricultural commissioners and the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, NASS explained.

Wal-Mart to Drop Wild Oats Organic Food Brand – WSJ

Wal-Mart to Drop Wild Oats Organic Food Brand

ENLARGE

Wal-Mart is dropping its Wild Oats organic food brand, according to sources, two years after introducing it as a way to bring inexpensive organics to a larger audience. Photo: Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

By Sarah Nassauer

Updated April 25, 2016 7:43 p.m. ET

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is phasing out its Wild Oats organic food brand, according to people familiar with the matter, dropping a line of products introduced two years ago in an effort to bring inexpensive organics to the masses.

The world’s largest retailer has unwound a complicated deal with private-equity firm Yucaipa Cos. that allowed it to sell Wild Oats pasta sauces, cereals and other shelf-stable products, the people said. The products will disappear from Wal-Mart shelves in coming months, they added.

Two years ago, Wal-Mart turned to Yucaipa as a faster way to get more organic products on shelves as competitors such as Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. reported skyrocketing sales of their own natural and organic store brands. Yucaipa, which is run by billionaire Ron Burkle, bought the Wild Oats brand after the grocery chain was sold to rival Whole Foods Market Inc.

Now Wal-Mart is switching tactics, hoping to add organic products to shelves in other ways, including selling more fresh produce and adding more organic food to its existing store brand, Great Value, these people said. Wal-Mart would have to further expand its own network of organic-food suppliers.

Spokespeople for Wal-Mart and Yucaipa declined to comment.

Wal-Mart’s move to drop Wild Oats is “an odd step to take when we know they are trying to increase private-label penetration and trying to target the higher-income consumer,” said Laura Kennedy, principal analyst at Kantar Retail, a research and consulting firm. But if Wal-Mart was “losing money to a middleman, well, this is not a time Wal-Mart wants to be losing anything.”

More grocers are using organic food to lure shoppers to stores, especially more desirable well-heeled customers.

Sales of food labeled organic rose 16.7% to $13.4 billion for the year ended April 2, according to Nielsen data. Sales of all food rose 1.6% to $468 billion during that time.

Wal-Mart is the country’s largest grocer, but has been slow to become an organic powerhouse on the same scale, stymied by the food’s often higher production costs and unique supply chain.

Overall, Wal-Mart has been battling slow-growing sales and a shift to online shopping. It recently closed more than 150 U.S. stores.

In recent months Wal-Mart executives have said they are making a renewed push to increase organic-food sales. Adding food perceived as healthier is “not our affluent-customer strategy, its broad-based strategy, but it’s a key piece to being relevant with that customer base,” Wal-Mart Chief Merchandising Officer Steve Bratspies said in a November interview. Wal-Mart is adding more organic fresh produce and small organic brands to shelves, executives said.

Some Wild Oats products sold well at Wal-Mart, particularly staples such as pasta sauce priced at about $2 a jar, the same as nonorganic brands like Prego and Ragu, the people familiar with the matter said. But the brand didn’t grow as quickly as some at Wal-Mart hoped, in part because the products weren’t in every store and weren’t called out on Wal-Mart’s shelves at the time, these people added.

Last year, Wal-Mart began adding purple signage to shelves to help shoppers notice organic items, Mr. Bratspies said in November. “That is one thing I would say we haven’t done a good enough job on,” generally.

Wild Oats started out as a chain of natural-food markets and was purchased by Whole Foods in 2007. After a challenge from antitrust authorities and long court battle, Whole Foods agreed to sell dozens of Wild Oats stores and the rights to the brand name.

Mr. Burkle’s Los Angeles-based Yucaipa bought the brand around 2012, licensing it to Wal-Mart.

When Wild Oats hit Wal-Mart shelves in 2014, the retailer touted it as a watershed moment that created a new price position for organic food, about 25% lower than national brands, making the food accessible to all.

Write to Sarah Nassauer at sarah.nassauer

Health Benefits of Cucumber | Healthy Food Master

Health Benefits of Cucumber

Health Benefits of Cucumbers

This vegetable belong to the Cucurbitaceae family such as pumpkin, and watermelon. Cucumbers are vegetable with high water content (around 95% water), they are naturally low in calories also low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. There is nothing better than good salad with Cucumbers in hot summer days because it will help you to stay hydrated. Not just in hot summer days you may eat cucumbers all year round because it’s loaded with nutrients, vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, Vitamin K, copper, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese. So it can help you to avoid nutrient deficiencies in your body. Let’s see the health benefits of this cool vegetable.

Antioxidant Properties. Antioxidant properties comes by containing of numerous antioxidants one of them is Vitamin C who is well-known and also beta-carotene. Antioxidant flavonoids are also contained in Cucumbers apigenin, quercetin, luteolin, and kaempferol,6 which provide more benefits. As instance quercetin many believe prevents histamine release. Kaempferol in other hand may help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.

Bone Health. low intakes of vitamin K in your diet may be associated with a higher risk for bone fracture. By eating a proper intake of fruits or vegetables you can provide vitamin K for example one cup of this vegetable provides 11% of your daily needs. Vitamin K is important mineral that can improve calcium absorption in the bones which is essential for optimal bone health.

Weight Loss and Digestion. Because Cucumber is high water content and low in calories makes it good diet for people who are looking for weight loss. The dietary fiber and high water content in this vegetable are excellent team to ridding the body of toxins from the digestive system, also aiding digestion. As a remedy for chronic constipation may be effective daily consumption of cucumbers.

Reduce bad breath. Bacteria in the mouth usually can cause bad breath, Fiber and water-rich vegetables such as cucumbers can boost your mouth’s saliva production, saliva in the mouth helps for washing the bacteria which cause the odor in the mouth.

Lowering Blood Pressure. Cucumbers contain potassium known mineral who is associated with lower blood pressure levels. For your body to function properly is crucial a proper balance of potassium inside and also outside your cells.

Reduces cholesterol. Because of compound called sterols who is contained in cucumber it helps to reduce bad cholesterol.

What Else Are Cucumbers Good For? helps in revitalizing the skin, drink cucumber juice daily can control hair fall, effective remedy for fight different kinds of cancer, good for dental health. Well Cucumbers are really powerhouse vegetable and adding them into your daily diet is no mistake.