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» March 9, 2005 «
Even though dry, warm weather prevails over much of California, rain continues to affect life on the farm. Lingering mud left by earlier storms means many fields remain too wet. In the Central Valley, some cotton farmers say they may not be able to begin fieldwork until April. Delayed cotton planting could affect eventual crop yields. In the Salinas Valley, farmers have been able to do fieldwork between storms, but say preparations are a little behind average.
Sunny, warmer weather should benefit the spring melon crop in the Imperial Valley. Farmers say the sun helps the melons build sugar content. Harvest usually starts toward the end of March, but farmers say they may begin harvesting melons a week early if the current weather continues. Fields in the Imperial Valley produce more than 20 percent of California-grown cantaloupes and honeydew melons.
To bolster the fight against dangerous plant pests, grape growers in a Central Valley county will band together in a new pest-control district. Kern County supervisors approved the request yesterday (Tuesday), acting on a petition from local table-grape growers. The new district can collect money to pay for pest-control measures, if farmers vote to assess themselves. Efforts will concentrate on pests such as the glassy-winged sharpshooter and the vine mealybug.
Infestations of red imported fire ants have been found in four Central Valley counties. It's suspected they came into California on beehives brought in from other states. No quarantines have been established, but the California Department of Food and Agriculture has started work to eradicate the ants. Thus far they have been found only in almond orchards. Although the initial treatment eliminates the ants, it takes up to three years of follow-up surveys to make certain the pests are gone.Top