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» January 21, 2009 «
Unusually warm weather has not been a concern for asparagus farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as the cold nighttime temperatures keep the soil cold. Asparagus starts to grow when the soil warms. Right now farmers say harvest will likely start about the end of February as usual. Above-average temperatures have growers in the Imperial Valley harvesting now and Mexican growers are in full production. As a result Mexican production might peak before California's delta harvest begins.
Farm income set a record in 2008. However, an agricultural economist is predicting lower prices for farmers this year. Because of the global recession, the only demand increase for corn the next two years will be for corn used for ethanol. Demand is expected to decline for wheat and cotton this year. One bright spot for farmers is that fertilizer prices are expected to decline because of the weak global economy.
California veterinarians are working to contain a disease that threatens breeding horses. Contagious equine metritis has been found in Kentucky stallions. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has quarantined 14 mares that may have been exposed through artificial insemination. The disease is not commonly found in the United States. It is curable and the quarantined mares will be treated if found positive. Meantime, U.S. animal health authorities are working to eradicate the disease.
California strawberry growers established a new production record last year, harvesting more than 1.7 billion pounds, according to the California Strawberry Commission. That's more than 77 million pounds over what they produced in 2007. Growers have indicated they plan to increase strawberry acreage this season. However, whether they achieve another record harvest depends on factors including water availability and weather. California leads the nation in strawberry production and farmers now harvest fruit year-round.Top