By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: You may recall yesterday’s blog article about all the amazing crops Arizona agriculture can grow in one acre. While we profiled a few crops we didn’t talk about our wonderful veggies we grow here in Arizona. When it comes to winter vegetables no one does it better than Yuma, Arizona! Even “Veggie Man” thinks so!
First up, Cauliflower and Broccoli. These two vegetables are easier to describe in number of crowns or heads.
Cauliflower: 12,000 to 22,000 heads per acre, depending on the time of year, variety and intended use.
Broccoli: 40,000 to 50,000 crowns per acre again, depending on a number of factors.
Lettuce is a little different
Head Lettuce: 27,000 - 35,000 heads-per-acre or approximately 40,000 pounds per acre on average.
Romaine: 20,000 - 40,000 pounds-per-acre depending on if you are after hearts (top and tail), hearts (topped only), whole hearts, or whole romaine.
Leaf Lettuce: Give or take 20,000 to 30,000 pounds-per-acre depending on format of planting and intended use. That's roughly 56,000 plants per acre and that is enough product to put one leaf of leaf lettuce on 2.8 million chicken sandwiches, hamburgers or deli sandwiches, from just one acre!
Spinach and spring mix: 15,000 to 25,000 pound-per-acre again depending on planting format and intended use. Obviously baby spinach takes nearly the same inputs but is a much lower yield due to harvesting young.
Says John Boelts of Desert Premium Farms in Yuma, “We produce a bounty so well because of the following factors:”
1. Weather - Yuma, AZ fabulous weather
2. Land - good soils being well managed by farmers
3. Water and infrastructure to deliver it to our fields - nothing grows and lives without water, even people
4. Skilled hands - people make it all happen. From developing the newest varieties to planting, growing, harvesting and shipping, it all takes people to make sure it arrives fresh and healthy at your local supermarket or eatery.
5. Pesticides - whether it's an organic or conventional product that we produce, we cannot grow either without the use of pesticides. A lot of different insects and diseases have other plans for your dinner than you eating it. So we protect the plants with pesticides.
6. Farm Bureau's efforts on behalf of economic freedom & Industry support - because communism starves people.
Through a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop grant, Arizona Farm Bureau recently completed production on a series of educational videos highlighting Arizona's current top 10 specialty crops, those crops that are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.
“The more we can educate and tell the public about Arizona agriculture's story the better," said Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers. "These videos are designed to educate our young people about the wide variety of crops our state grows."
Representing more than $1.7 billion in Arizona agriculture specialty crops, the Arizona Farm Bureau videos will feature broccoli, spinach, head lettuce, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, watermelon, pecans, cauliflower, cantaloupe and cabbage. These 10 crops were selected as they are currently the top 10 in cash receipts though these top 10 vary, for example the previous year lemons were in the ranking.
The first video completed and on YouTube is "The Adventures of Veggie Man: Field to Fork with Broccoli." The additional videos will be released in subsequent months.
"Many of our Arizona families don't know the variety and extent of Arizona's healthy fruits and vegetables and what's available to them in grocery stores and farmers' markets," says Julie Murphree, marketing director and program coordinator for this video series. "In collaboration with Arizona fruit and vegetable farmers, we felt the best way to tell Arizona agriculture's vegetable and fruit story was to educate and inform through a video featuring our state's top specialty crops. We want to help kids and Arizona families eat more fruits and vegetables."
Arizona Farm Bureau plans to distribute the videos through Arizona Farm Bureau's Ag in the Classroom program, YouTube, Fill Your Plate and through its social media channels. Plus, some of our schools have asked to air the videos during mealtime in the cafeterias.