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» January 28, 2009 «
Rain last week came just in time for California winter wheat farmers. It provided enough moisture for the short term. However, the California Wheat Commission says rainfall amounts varied with some fields receiving better soakings than others. Farmers are concerned about future weather. Last year storms stopped coming after January and growers think that might happen again. Long-range forecasts predict no rain until at least next Wednesday. Growers with irrigation water available could save their crop, but dryland farmers could lose theirs.
The 16th annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival opens this weekend for a two-month run. Visitors learn about the agriculture, food, wine, art and culture of the Napa Valley. Proceeds go to many organizations such as the American Red Cross and Clinic Ole. The latter provides accessible, affordable health care to the underserved in Napa County. This is mustard season as the plant flourishes in vineyards, providing nutrients to the vines and preventing erosion while creating a colorful landscape.
Sweet potato harvest in California inched up slightly last year, according to a government report. Growers produced about 1 percent more than in 2007. Sweet potato acreage was about 9 percent above 2007. The yield is about 8 percent lower than the record 2007 high. Still California's per-acre yield of 295 hundred-pound weights is well above the 189 national average. California ranks second in sweet potato production.
Central Valley residents will lose more than $1 billion in income this year if there is an 85 percent reduction in irrigation water. That's what the State Water Project now says will happen without normal precipitation. A UC Davis economist told a meeting of agricultural leaders that 40,000 jobs would be lost in small rural towns if that water reduction happens. Many of those communities already have very high unemployment rates. Protections for endangered species and low rainfall are causing the shortages.Top