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» March 20, 2009 «
Freezing temperatures earlier this month killed the fruit that had been set on blueberry plants in the San Joaquin Valley. As a result, harvest will start later than usual because all the early fruit was lost. Most growers will still have blueberry production, just a later start to the season. Growers will be pumping groundwater for irrigation to replace surface water. As the water table declines, farmers' costs increase because pumps use more electricity to bring water to the surface.
Salinas Valley farmers organized Ag Against Hunger as a means to collect their surplus fruit and vegetables for distribution to food banks. The organization has been so successful, it distributes produce throughout California and nearby states during the high summer production season. The organization has developed exchange agreements with food banks in the Central Valley, sending vegetables there and returning with stone fruit. As more people lose jobs, food bank demand for food increases.
California cherry trees are starting to blossom. Kern County trees are more advanced and have already started to develop fruit. Further north, trees are in full blossom in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and other counties. The freezing temperatures earlier this month do not seem to have caused much damage. Growers say the crop looks good right now. Anticipating rain this weekend, farmers are taking action to prevent damage to the blossoms. Cherries are the last fruit in California to bloom and the first to be harvested.
Starting March 23, Food and Farm News becomes a weekly service with distribution each Tuesday afternoon. For the latest news about California agriculture, please visit the California Farm Bureau Web site: www.cfbf.com. Other resources on the site include:
- Continuing, in-depth coverage of California's water crisis
- Ag Alert stories, including a new "Going Organic" series
- Feature story leads from our California Country TV and magazine reporters