Grocery stores across the country are hiking up the prices of some major food staples.
In February alone, prices rose .4 percent and by the end of 2014, experts say expect an increase of as much as 3.5 percent.
A severe drought in the Midwest is one of the factors to blame for the price increase, and the beef industry has been hit especially hard.
“Beef supplies are down. We expect beef supplies to be down 6-7% this year. Supplies are down. Prices go up,” Dr. Stephen Amosson, a Texas A&M extension economist, said.
In January, the USDA recorded the highest price for a pound of fresh beef since it began tracking this statistic more than 25 years ago.
Then there’s produce, higher prices this time of year are normal because of the transition from winter to spring.
The concern is about prices later in the year.
WATCH: Harsh winter and drought spike food prices.
“As the new crops come in the prices are high, but this year we expect them to go higher because some of the crops have been eliminated, mainly because they just won’t have enough water,” said Peter Carcione of Carcione Fresh Produce Company.
The unusually cold winter and increases in demand have also contributed to the rising price of food.
“There may be products that are really affected, and other ones that are not, so you’ll have to wait and see, and I think people will also adjust what they eat a bit, to what’s available,” Frank Ballentine, President of Green Leaf Produce, said. – CBN.
|Armenia’s annual apricot harvest averages 50,000-55,000 tonnes. ITAR-TASS/Alexander Kolbasov|
A recent cold spell and a heavy snowfall has killed about 90-95% of the apricot harvest in Armenia, causing a damage of $ 25-30 million, chairman of the Armenian Union of Agrarians and Peasants Grach Berberyan told journalists.
“The frost and snow killed forming blossoms,” he said. “Damage was done to apricot, plum, peach, cherry trees and early-ripe species of grapes. The most affected areas are in the Ararat plain and in regions near Yerevan.”
Armenia’s annual apricot harvest averages 50,000-55,000 tonnes, of which 20,000-22,000 tonnes are exported and about 10,000 tonnes are further processed.
A heavy snowfall hit the republic over the past weekend. The snow blanket, according to meteorologists, reached 20 centimetres. Air temperatures dropped to three degrees below zero. – ITAR-TASS.
|Farmers, gardeners say they’re weeks behind.|
The calendar may tell farmers and gardeners to get out and start planting, but that’s impossible right now.
The late-season cold and snow is wreaking havoc with New Hampshire’s growing season.
If Abby Wiggin of Wake Robin Farm had her way, her plants would already be in the ground.
“Last year, we planted peas on March 21,” she said. “It’s April 2 now, and I can’t get a tiller out in the field.”
It’s the same in fields across the state. Some farms are two to three weeks behind schedule. Home gardeners and the gardening retail business have been slow to start, too.
“As far as people coming in to shop, we’re two weeks behind,” said Beth Simpson of Rolling Green Nursery.
At Rolling Green Nursery, the winter blankets covering outdoor perennials are just now being rolled up, a week or two later than normal.
The greenhouse plants are on track, although the extra cold nights and a lack of sunshine have slowed some a bit. Farmers said the sense is that after the long, cold winter, there’s a pent-up demand to see color and eat fresh produce.
“If you farm in New England, you just have to take it in stride,” Wiggin said. “Some years are colder than others. I’m not worried by any means. It’s just going to be late.”
Experts said a few warmer-than-normal weeks could make a big difference. – WMUR.
|“Damp soil leftover from winter, melting snow and lagging temperatures mean a lot of places are going to have
a slow planting period across the Midwest, northern Plains and the Great Lakes,”
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler said.
AccuWeather.com reports despite the official start of spring, lingering effects of the winter season will cause planting delays this year.
While the South will be right on schedule weather-wise for prime planting with looming frost concerns, delays will become more and more likely with every mile heading north.
Frozen Ground, Soil to Create Delays
Coming off a frigid, snow-filled winter for areas from the Great Lakes to the Ohio Valley and Northeast, spring will shape up to be mostly cool and wet.
“Damp soil leftover from winter, melting snow and lagging temperatures mean a lot of places are going to have a slow planting period across the Midwest, northern Plains and the Great Lakes,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler said.
With corn and soybeans being the largest crops in the Midwest and Plains, which are planted typically in April and May, one of the most influential factors in when to plant is soil temperature.
“Soil temperatures must be warm enough to support whatever crop you are planting,” Mohler said. “For corn that’s 50 F or above and for soybeans it’s 54 F or above.”
After this year’s harsh winter with record-breaking cold and snow, meteorologists are concerned that because the ground is still frozen in the Ohio Valley and Upper Midwest, it will take longer for the frost to thaw out of the ground and as a result, keep soil temperatures lower longer.
In these areas, the ground is not expected to heat up quickly, as wetness in the early spring and summer is expected across the regions.
Melting Snow, Severe Weather May Generate Floods
With 92.19 percent of the Great Lakes covered in ice as of March 6, 2014, the water temperatures in the Great Lakes will need time to recover from the historic ice coverage.
“The influence will be in the areas on the east and south sides of the Lakes,” AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. “Temperatures may not be quite as warm in the next couple of months going forward.”
Along with the ice melt, snow melt along the Great Lakes and in the Upper Midwest can keep soil too moist and cool for planting even if normal temperatures are recorded in the region.
“The soil can’t be too moist,” Mohler said. “If it is the seeds might rot and it’s difficult for machinery to be in the field; it can get stuck.”
As a cool and wet start is in the forecast for the Northeast, any above-normal precipitation combined with frost and snow melt may produce some flash flooding events.
Unlike 2013, this year’s biggest threats of heavy rain and flooding have shifted into the Midwest and the Mississippi Valley with wet periods in the forecast for both regions.
While the impacts of this year’s winter will linger, severe weather season is now upon us which could potentially give farmers another hurdle to jump over.
With high pressure expected off the coast of New England in May, southeastern and eastern Florida could experience an increase in rainfall.
Any type of early tropical wave development could lead to some flooding, according to Pastelok.
Mounting Drought Concerns
With the wet season ending, this spring will be the second in a row with a severe drought for the areas from western Texas through central California, the extreme dryness will take a toll on the planting season.
“In late April to May, temperatures between 90F and 100F will be seen in the Sacramento Valley,” Pastelok said.
Due to the severity of the drought, especially in California, water restrictions may be placed on farmers. To date there are no mandatory water restrictions on farmers.
As April is an essential month for wine growers with their grape vines awakening from their dormant stage, growers have immense water needs during this time period. With water restrictions in place, many could experience a significantly reduced crop this season due to the lack of available water resources alongside of the parched ground.
“The soil moisture will not be very deep so it will get used up fast,” Mohler said. “They (growers) are going to have problems into the summer because there is too little moisture to last through the hot summer months.”
Aside from the impacts on the wine industry, other crops such as vegetables and oranges will likely feel the effects of the drought as well in regards to their taste and relative size.
As the leading state for the production of almonds, artichokes, grapes, kiwi, olives, peaches, pomegranates, rice and walnuts, the result of the drought in California may also impact every state across the U.S., as prices for produce rise.
Weather Pattern May Favor Late Frost
While nothing out of the ordinary is predicted for the Northeast with typical cold shots and freezes in store for the region, the recent weather pattern does have meteorologists worried about late frosts in the lower Ohio and northern Tennessee valleys.
“It seems like the weather pattern has been one that favors some cold air masses coming into the central U.S.,” Mohler said.
Two weeks beyond the normal freeze time, late April is the time period for the biggest frost concerns. As a result, timing the planting of corn and soybeans will be essential for the survival of the crops and the success of the harvest.