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» January 13, 2009 «
Celery supplies are not meeting demand for the vegetable right now. Farmers are earning about twice what they earned last year at this time, while having trouble meeting demand. Consumers will probably see higher prices in retail stores. Farmers plant celery fields to mature in 120 days. Warm weather in December hastened celery maturity then, but cold weather now is lengthening maturity to 130 days, causing the supply shortage. Warm weather is predicted for this week in growing areas so supplies should increase in time for the demand increase for Super Bowl parties on February 1.
Farm groups are continuing their efforts to get Congress to enact immigration reform. Growers say they need workers in a timely manner when crops are ready for harvest. This past season farmers report many workers arriving on the job site in trucks equipped for construction work. Although there were enough workers last year, that may not be the case when the construction business rebounds. Farmers do not want to see a repeat of pear growers two years ago who had fruit rot on the tree for lack of workers.
Volatility in rice prices is predicted to continue, according to the International Rice Research Institute. Prices have dropped more than $500 a ton, but are still higher than in mid-2007. The institute suggests rice demand will continue strong as some of the world's poorest countries are hit by the global economic crisis. Consumers in those nations may increase their rice consumption as a substitute for more expensive foods. The institute suggests increased yields of rice per acre as the only long-term solution.
University of California researchers have found a chemical that controls the pathogen that causes sudden oak death for two years. Thousands of oak trees and other plants in California have been affected by the pathogen since its discovery in 1995. The chemical can be applied topically to the tree bark or injected into the tree. It does not harm fish or animals. Researchers continue to seek a means to control the pathogen longer than two years.Top