February 26, 1989 |
Dong Saelee is a Hmong hill tribesman in the remote mountains of northern Thailand. He lives much as his ancestors have for generations in a village largely untouched by the modern world, where ritual spirit worship and animal sacrifices are commonplace. Dong Saelee also is an agribusinessman of no little sophistication. The most remarkable thing about Dong, however, is that he isn't growing opium, the traditional cash crop in Pakluoy as recently as four years ago. And he is making twice as much growing cabbage and potatoes as he would have planting poppies, which says a lot about who profits most when opium from villages like Pakluoy is refined into heroin and eventually sold on the streets of cities around the world.
July 7, 1992 |
Berries, berries, berries. Sometimes, it's strawberry pie and raspberry wine. Sometimes, it's one night's devastating freeze and months of worry. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries - all sorts of berries grown in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey are late this year. On some Jersey blueberry farms, disastrously so, as late as never. This, in short, is the region's problem: Last year - very hot weather, very early local berry crop. This year - rather cool weather, rather late crop.
July 24, 2010 |
South Jersey farmers in the Vineland area spotted the fungus about two weeks ago. Sweet basil plants were yellowing, and brown spores appeared on the underside of the herb's leaves. Though seen on other crops, downy mildew is relatively new to basil in the United States. It wiped out much of the crop on East Coast farms, including those in New Jersey, last summer. The aggressive disease was carried on the wind from the south, and, if it spreads as before, it will again discolor and disfigure the region's crop, reducing availability and likely driving up prices.
August 21, 1991 |
It's been a bountiful year for New Jersey peach growers - a little too bountiful, in fact. So many pecks of perfect peaches - and nectarines - have been picked this summer, that retailers are rejecting fruit smaller than two inches wide - no matter how good they taste. As a result, some growers are just tossing the little ones away. Although some are giving them away. Alfred Caggiano of Sunny Slope Farm in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, gave away some "3,000 to 4,000 bushels" of little peaches between Friday and Monday.
September 21, 1992 |
A dusty pickup truck rolls alongside a 10-acre field of peppers. The peppers are puny. Pathetic. They went in the ground in early May, got off to a good start, then just laid there. Never got even a foot off the ground. Behind the wheel of the pickup is hefty John Rigolizzo Jr., 39 - the fourth John Rigolizzo, going all the way back to the turn of the century, to run 600- acre Johnny Boy Farms. He sounds weary. His peppers got zapped by a late- spring Arctic blast, but instead of dying, they hung around and tantalized him. "If they had froze, they would have done me a favor," Rigolizzo says.
May 5, 2002 |
The nation is going plant crazy. This year - even with a drought - the largest revenue crop in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and about 10 other states is likely to be nursery products such as begonias, pansies, petunias, azaleas, other annuals and perennials, and shade trees. And that is only part of the economic story unfolding in the backyard, a growing number of agricultural economists and trade organizations say. With the nation in the grip of quickening suburbanization and heavily influenced by the consumer behavior of plant-passionate female baby boomers, suburban land care and gardening is a multibillion-dollar industry that can be considered one of the largest U.S. farm sectors.
October 15, 1996 |
Go ahead and light up. It's OK to smoke. You can puff away inside the county courthouse, at the McDonald's, in the small eateries that dot the twisting mountain roads. The "No smoking" signs that seem universal in cities like Philadelphia are almost unheard of here. It's reminiscent of the mid-1960s, when I was a child. My parents smoked. So did their friends. Cigarettes were commonly set out on coffee tables, offered to guests along with the dinner mints. On television - the shows were black and white then - people solved their problems over coffee and smokes.
February 20, 2002 |
If you are a gardener or a farmer, don't worry about the drought. Yet. For plants, a winter dry spell does not necessarily augur ill for the spring. "It's not an immediate threat to gardens," said Paul Meyer, director of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania in Chestnut Hill. Depleted deep-water resources are a serious problem, he said, but "the surface soil is in reasonably good shape," and most plants are relatively dormant anyway. "There's not much we can do or have to do right now, because gardens aren't suffering.
April 15, 2001 |
Forty-five acres of fuzzy freestone and pitted peach trees brought the Casella family pies, profits and Phillies privileges over the last 60 years. Now the Casella farm - 293 acres in all - is dotted with piles of uprooted peach trees, which at one time were the farm's major cash crop. The brown, spindly branches and small trunks are ready for burning. Hefty wages for peach pickers, unpredictable weather, and expensive irrigation systems have taken their toll on Casella Bros.
February 5, 2007 |
Something is killing the nation's honeybees. Dave Hackenberg of central Pennsylvania had 3,000 hives and figures he has lost all but about 800 of them. In labs at Pennsylvania State University, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and elsewhere in the nation, researchers have been stunned by the number of calls about the mysterious losses. "Every day, you hear of another operator," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting state apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.