(Jan. 8) Kern County, California’s carrot capital, maintains a steady carrot supply for the continuous season with favorable weather and market conditions.

Just the right amount of chilly weather coupled with an increasing product value is the formula that keeps production strong in the district. About 80% of the nation’s fresh carrots are grown year-round in California, with the majority grown in and shipped from Kern County.

“It is a pretty good season from the operation’s side, with just the right amount of cold weather,” said Dennis Francis, sales manager with DM Camp & Sons, Bakersfield, Calif. “We are producing about the same amount of carrots as last year.”

Growing conditions for the California crop have been excellent, with growers expecting good yields and quality crops, reported the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Jan. 6, USDA reported 48 1-pound film bags of medium-large carrots in sacks selling for $10.85. Loose jumbo 50-pound sacks were selling for $11.85-15.85 f.o.b.

Prices are up from 2003.

Last January, 48 1-pound film bags of medium-large Kern County carrots sold for $9.85. Prices for 50-pound sacks of loose jumbo were $7.85, according to USDA reports.

Carrot prices continue to climb, although production has leveled off in recent years.

“Since baby-cut carrots are a value added product, the value of the California fresh carrot crop has been increasing even faster than the production,” said Jerry Munson, board manager at California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board, Dinuba.

“Current production totals 19.75 million cwt. and is lining up with last year’s reports although, reports are still being confirmed for the 2003 season,” Munson said.

The orange root isn’t popular just in the U.S. as countries around the world import millions of California carrots each year.

As of January 2003, nearly $78 million worth of the state’s carrots were exported, which is a 6% increase from $73 million in January 2002, according to USDA foreign agricultural service.

This is a significant jump from worldwide exports totaling just under $60 million five years earlier.