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Banana growers earn more

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Hawaii banana growers produced 20 million usable pounds of bananas in 2006, almost as much as in 2005, and got a better price for what they grew.

"Weather for 2006 was mixed for banana production," said Mark Hudson, director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service Hawaii Field Office. "Six weeks of heavy rainfall from late February through March resulted in slow fruit maturation in many orchards."

Statewide banana acreage in 2006 grew 5 percent to 1,200 acres and harvested acreage grew 2 percent to 1,000 acres. Production is down from peak seasons around 2000 and 2001 but higher than most years from the mid-1990s back to the 1940s.

The 20 million pounds utilization was down 4 percent from 2005 but the average farm price rose 12 percent, or more than a nickel a pound, to 49 cents per pound for fresh bananas.

The higher prices pushed the total farm value of Hawaii's banana crops up 7 percent, from $9.2 million in 2005 to $9.8 million in 2006.

In the same period the United States imported 8.5 billion pounds of bananas, with three countries each contributing more than 900 metric tons -- Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala.

[News Source]

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