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» July 29, 2009 «
Saying he needed money for a reserve, Governor Schwarzenegger reduced funding for a property tax incentive program intended to keep farmers farming. The cash that remains—only $1,000—effectively suspends the program for a year. The funds for the Williamson Act compensate county governments who provide the tax relief. It's another economic burden for farmers, who have faced uncertainty about water this year as well as credit problems created by the water uncertainty.
Decades ago California farmers grew hops, which are used to produce quality beer. However, farmers found they could earn more with other crops, and hop growing moved to the Pacific Northwest. Recently, though, a Chico-based brewery planted three acres of hops for use in their estate beer. The plants grow on cables as tall as 18 feet. It's not clear whether additional acres may be planted in hops, but the Chico Estate Harvest Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewery will be available next month.
Demand for California-grown figs continues to expand as consumers learn more about the fruit's health benefits, including its high mineral content. Growers report the crop this year is developing good quality, and production should be about the same as last year. Fresh figs should be available from now until December. California growers produce about 11,000 tons of figs each year and grow five different varieties of the fruit. California leads the nation in fig production.
Cotton growers report there may be some damage from the hot weather in the San Joaquin Valley. Plants for self-preservation will drop cotton bolls if nighttime temperatures remain above 80 degrees or if there isn't enough water. Nighttime temps have cooled in many growing areas, but not all. Some farmers relying on well water report wells going dry. It will be another week or more before any damage is noticeable. Because of lack of water, California acreage planted in cotton is less than 200,000 this year.Top