The latest California Vegetable Review from the Sacramento, Calif., Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service:

Summer fresh market vegetable, melon acreage

The prospective area for the harvest of 11 selected fresh market vegetables during the summer quarter is forecast at 266,900 acres, up 3 percent from last year.

Acreage increases in cabbage, sweet corn, cucumbers, bell peppers, and tomatoes more than offset acreage declines in snap beans, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. The celery and head lettuce area remains unchanged.

The area forecast for melon harvest is 89,100 acres, down 2 percent from last year. Cantaloupe acreage is forecast at 28,900 acres, 1 percent above 2009. Honeydew, at 10,000 acres, is down 2 percent from last year. Watermelon acreage, at 50,200 acres, is down 3 percent from a year ago.

Strawberry production in the United States is forecast at 26 million hundredweight (cwt.), down 5 percent from last year. Area harvested, at 48,200 acres, is down 4 percent from 2009. The strawberry yield is forecast at 540 cwt. per acre, down 6 cwt. from 2009.

California’s strawberry forecasted acreage is down 6 percent from 2009. Strawberry plantings began to bloom in March. By mid-April, strawberry harvest began in some parts of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV).

Onion growers expect to harvest 149,270 acres in 2010, down 1 percent from last year. Spring onion growers harvested 26,700 acres, down 2 percent from last season. Summer, non-storage onion growers expect to harvest 17,900 acres, up 3 percent from a year ago. Storage onion growers plan to harvest 104,670 acres in 2010, down 1 percent from last season.

Vegetable processors have contracted 1.09 million acres to be planted to the five major vegetable crops (snap beans, sweet corn, cucumbers for pickles, green peas, and tomatoes). This is down 11 percent from last year.

Contracted green pea acreage at 180,400 is down 15 percent. Green pea contracted production, at 351,480 tons, is down 20 percent from 2009.

Contracted processing tomato production is forecast at 12.9 million tons, down 7 percent from 2009.

Broccoli

California's area for summer harvest is forecast at 28,100 acres, down 9 percent from last year. Warm weather during June stimulated plant growth. The quality of the broccoli crop is reported good.

Cantaloupe

California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 24,000 acres. Planting is underway for the SJV summer melon crop. However, cool spring temperatures delayed development. No major insect or disease problems have been reported.

Nationally, cantaloupe area for harvest is forecast at 28,900 acres, up 1 percent from 2009. In Texas, harvest began in the southern part of the state in late May. Yields and quality are reported good.

Carrot

California’s carrot acreage for summer harvest is forecast at 15,000 acres. The crop is reported in excellent condition.

Nationally, the area for fresh market harvest is forecast at 16,800 acres, down 12 percent from last year. In Michigan, carrots had emerged by mid-May. The crop is reported to be progressing well.

Cauliflower

California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 7,300 acres, down 8 percent from 2009. Wet weather during planting created quality issues in early spring cauliflower. However, crop development improved as temperatures rose later in the spring season into summer.

Celery

California's celery area for summer harvest is forecast at 6,000 acres, unchanged from 2009. The summer celery crop is in full swing in the Salinas Valley. Good crop quality is reported.

Sweet corn

California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 12,000 acres. Spring harvest was underway in the Imperial Valley by late April.

Planting was ongoing in the SJV in June. The sweet corn crop developed well due to warm summer temperatures. Good quality is reported in all growing regions.

Nationally, fresh market sweet corn acreage for harvest is forecast at 104,500 acres, up 11 percent from last year. In New York, planting is on schedule and harvest is expected to begin around mid-July.

Honeydew

California’s honeydew acreage for summer harvest is forecast at 8,000 acres. Planting is ongoing for the SJV summer melon crop. However, cool spring temperatures delayed crop development. No major insect or disease problems have been reported.

Nationally, fresh market acreage for summer harvest is forecast at 10,000 acres, down 2 percent from last year. Harvest in Arizona began in late May. The growing season has been cooler than normal.

Head lettuce

California’s head lettuce area for summer harvest is forecast at 35,000 acres, unchanged from last year. Cool temperatures and rainfall slowed lettuce growth in the coastal growing regions.

Tomato (fresh market)

California’s area for summer harvest is forecast at 18,500 acres, up 5 percent from last year. Planting was delayed in tomato production regions during April. Cool, wet and windy weather slowed plant growth. Harvest is expected to begin in central California a week later than normal.

Nationally, fresh market area for summer harvest is forecast at 33,000 acres, up 5 percent from last year.

Tomato (processing)

In California, growers are expected to contract 269,000 acres of processing tomatoes, 13 percent less than in 2009. Contracted production is expected to be 12.3 million tons, 6 percent below a year ago. Wet weather and cool temperatures delayed some planting activities.

Nationally, contracted production is forecast at 12.9 million tons, down 7 percent from last year. Planted area contracted, at 287,100 acres, is down 12 percent from 2009.

Watermelon

California’s watermelon area for summer harvest is forecast at 9,600 acres, up 5 percent from 2009. Planting of the SJV summer melon crop is ongoing. No major insect or disease problems have been reported. Harvest is expected to begin in July.

Nationally, summer area for harvest is forecast at 50,200 acres, down 3 percent from 2009.

Onion

In California, cool weather delayed harvest. However, sizing of spring onions is reported good.

Nationally, production of spring onions in 2010 is forecast at 8.37 million cwt., down 2 percent from last year. The crop is produced on 26,700 harvested acres. The average yield is 313 cwt. per acre, 2 cwt. below 2009.