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» February 12, 2009 «
One of the results of the economic downturn last fall was a sharp decline in commodity prices. Almond and walnut growers suddenly found buyers unwilling to purchase nuts, waiting to see how far prices might decline. As a result, farmers were left with large nut supplies in storage. However, in recent weeks some buyers have returned to the market. Growers say prices have improved, but not as much as they would like. However, there is optimism that the markets are turning around.
Two diesel trucks that have been converted to run on biomethane debuted at World Ag Expo in Tulare this week. This renewable fuel reduces emissions and air pollution, along with dependence on fossil fuels. Biomethane is carbon negative. The fuel was made from cow waste at Hilarides Dairy in Lindsey. The farmer uses methane to generate electricity as well as produce fuel for his trucks. Nationally, dairy cows could power about a million vehicles a year with clean-burning biomethane.
Seasonal rain is promoting the growth of wild mushrooms. The director of the California Department of Public Health has issued a warning that eating wild mushrooms can cause serious illness. There were 894 cases of people becoming ill after eating wild mushrooms last year; about half were children under age six. Wild mushrooms grow year-round, but are most commonly found after it rains in fall, late winter or spring.
Rain washes salt built up from irrigation water out of vineyard soils every year. However, dry weather in the last couple years has allowed salinity to increase along the Central Coast. Research by University of California scientists shows salinity can build up substantially after just one year of dry weather. That could reduce yields. Research and development by the university is seeking a rootstock that is more tolerant to salinity. Australian researchers have developed one rootstock that shows promise for California use.Top