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» April 22, 2009 «
Avocado growers are reporting a light crop in all California growing regions. Hot weather at bloom time last year is causing a historically light crop this year. Also some avocado trees were damaged by wildfire last year, and farmers are stripping fruit. That action will give trees a better chance to recover from fire damage. With a light crop, California farmers say some of their Japanese market is going to avocados from countries including Chile, Argentina and Spain.
Thousands of acres of Central Valley farmland are lying fallow this spring because of a lack of irrigation water. Some rural counties have unemployment rates as high as 25 percent. Individual farmers are reducing their plantings, which requires fewer workers. Growers are planting crops that use less water and less labor to earn at least some income. Economists warn the income loss could be nearly $3 billion with job losses of 80,000 or more. This is the third dry precipitation year in a row in California.
Researchers using newly found genetic markers are developing blueberries with better nutrition and quality, and that are more resistant to cold. The scientists are using the microsatellite genetic markers to track genetic diversity, which helps speed breeding improvements. Blueberries are already renowned for their nutritional attributes, and a new University of Michigan study suggests that a blueberry-enriched diet can reduce belly fat and diabetes risk. The fruit is harvested from April to July in California.
Rice farmers in California have a new invasive weed to battle: red rice. It's so named as it looks like rice but is red in color. Thus far it has been found only in a few fields, but it could spread. Farmers who've found it have been vigilant about pulling and destroying it. There is no herbicide registered for use on rice that has any effect on red rice. If established it can greatly reduce yields. Red rice has been a significant problem in the past in California and is prevalent in the South now.Top