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Increased production French artichokes

Production of globe artichokes in France increased this season over that of the previous year. Absent the cold, wet conditions experienced during last year's spring, 2014's production is expected to reach 28,500 tons. An earlier start to the season, in May, also contributed to a more bountiful crop.

The market for globe artichokes was normal up until June, at which time movement slowed. Usually, about 450 tons of product are sold each day during June, but growers found it difficult to sell more than 350 tons per day during June this year. As a consequence, significant portions of this year's production went unsold or were sold at low prices for a three-week period this summer.

Except for a few days in July, market conditions improved during a two month stretch that ran from July through August. September volumes were low up until the end of the month, when favourable weather conditions brought daily output up to 500 tons per day – significantly more than the 300 tons per day that growers usually see during September. Increased volume brought with it lower prices, and growers destroyed half of their product from that month. Autumn brought interest from the Italian market, with buyers there focused on smaller sizes. That attention to smaller sizes increased prices for that class of product, and prices for all sizes rose to satisfactory levels after production fell back to normal.

Volumes of petit violet artichokes were also higher than those from last year. While last year, 32 million heads of petit violet artichokes were grown, this year's total production rose to 39 million heads. Those large volumes made for a depressed market early in the season, but prices rose in June and early July. Prices fell once again in September, and large volumes of globe artichokes brought down prices. Demand from Italian buyers during the fall came too late to absorb this season's peak volumes.

Shipments of petit violet artichokes to Italy rose from last year, though the bulk of both globe and petit violet artichokes still go to the domestic market, with 90 percent of the former variety and 75 percent of the latter variety staying in France. Overall, production for both varieties was higher than expected this year and prices for growers were lower than those from 2013.

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