Here is the California Vegetable Review issued on March 9 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Sacramento, Calif., field office.

Spring season fresh market vegetable market acreage

Broccoli: California's area for spring harvest is forecast at 31,000 acres, down 6 percent from 2008. Drought conditions abound throughout much of the state. Production in the southern desert valleys is winding down for the season. Water shortages remain a concern. Despite dry conditions, crop quality is reported to be good with no major pest or disease problems reported.

Cantaloupe: In California, planting has begun in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Harvest is expected to begin sometime in June. Nationally, acreage intended for harvest is forecast at 25,000 acres, down 4 percent from 2008.

Carrots: In California, dry weather and the lack of moisture resulted in acreage loss. However, crop quality is reported good. Nationally, intended acreage for harvest is forecast at 12,300 acres, down 13 percent from last year.

Cauliflower: California’s area for spring harvest is forecast at 6,600 acres, 15 percent below 2008. Cool and dry conditions hindered plant growth in many areas of the state. However, crop quality is reported good with no major pest or disease problems.

Celery: California’s area for spring harvest is forecast at 6,000 acres, unchanged from last year. Unseasonably warm temperatures in November boosted crop growth and development.

Sweet corn: In California, weather conditions were favorable for the sweet corn crop. Planting for the spring crop has begun in the Imperial Valley. Harvest is expected to begin around mid-April. Nationally, acreage for harvest is forecast at 37,100 acres, down 3 percent from a year ago. In Florida, favorable weather conditions allowed planting to progress on schedule.

Honeydew melons: California’s spring crop is progressing despite water shortages in the San Joaquin Valley. Harvest is expected to begin in June. Nationally, acreage for harvest is forecast at 3,000 acres, down 3 percent from 2008.

Head lettuce: California’s area for harvest is forecast at 31,000 acres, down 6 percent from 2008. Spring lettuce fields are in various stages of growth in the Bakersfield-Huron district. Water availability continues to plague growers for the third year in a row as reservoirs and snow pack remain below average.

Tomatoes: In California, recent rainfall benefitted plant growth. No disease or pest problems reported. Nationally, intended acreage for harvest is forecast at 26,300 acres, up 7 percent from 2008.

Watermelons: California’s expected area for harvest is forecast at 2,000 acres, 13 percent below a year ago. Planting is still ongoing for the spring melon crop and harvest is expected to begin in June. Nationally, acreage intended for harvest is forecast at 37,300 acres, down 1 percent from last year.

Processing tomatoes: California contract production intentions for 2009 at 13.3 million tons are 14 percent above 2008. California’s forecast is based on a survey of processors that was conducted in January. Updated acreage and production will be available May 29, 2009.

Nationally, contracts with growers cover 326,200 acres in 2009, up 10 percent from last year for comparable states. Contract production, at 13.9 million tons, is 14 percent above 2008 for comparable states. In Indiana, planting and field preparation has been delayed due to cold and wet weather.

Spring and summer onions: California growers planted 6,300 acres of spring onions this year, 6 percent below the previous year. Other than a dry winter and concerns over future water allocations, the 2009 spring onion crop is looking good. California’s summer storage onion planted acreage is estimated at 33,500 acres, an increase of 3 percent from last year. Despite concerns with water availability during planting, good growing conditions are currently being reported.

The summer non-storage onion planted acreage is estimated at 6,000 acres, down 23 percent from last year. The onion crop is progressing well.

Nationally, the total planted onion acreage for all seasons in 2009 is forecast at 155,720 acres, down 3 percent from last year. Spring onions were planted on 29,500 acres in 2009, decreasing 5 percent from 2008. The summer non-storage onion planted acreage, at 16,200 acres, is down 19 percent from a year ago.

The total storage planted acreage is 110,020 acres, up slightly from 2008. The total summer onion acreage, at 126,220 acres, is down 3 percent from the previous year.

Asparagus: California’s intended acreage for harvest is forecast at 14,000, down 3 percent from last year. The crop is developing well. Nationally, intended acreage for harvest is forecast at 31,000 acres, down 4 percent from 2008.