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» January 6, 2010 «
As the state Legislature returns to Sacramento this week, farm groups say they'll pay particular attention to water and budget issues. A California Farm Bureau spokesman said farmers want lawmakers to maintain agreements reached prior to passage of a package of water bills last year. He said the budget crisis could lead legislators to propose more fees that would impact farmers and ranchers.
Even if precipitation increases this winter, farmers who pay for irrigation water from the State Water Project have been told the best they can expect is 20 percent of their allocations. Kern County farmers have been told by their irrigation district that environmental restrictions will prevent them from receiving more water. The state project has said it can promise only 5 percent of water supplies, but deliveries could increase if more snow falls. Because of the uncertainty, farmers plan to continue fallowing portions of their land.
Winter weather has been favorable for fruit and nut trees. Most need a certain number of chill hours to help them develop a crop for the next season. Chill hours are recorded when the temperature drops below 45 degrees. So far this winter more chill hours have accumulated than did last year at this time. The California Cherry Commission says foggy weather has accelerated chill hour accumulations. Cherries, apples and pears need the most, about 1,200 hours. The trees will develop a crop with less chilling, but it won't be as heavy.
Supplies of fresh tomatoes have started to recover from a shortage that developed last month. A supply gap occurred when the California season ended. That drove prices up. Now, the Federal-State Market News Service says farms from Mexico and Florida have begun shipping tomatoes to California. It says wholesale prices have dropped to the average range and that consumers should see tomato prices return to typical levels for this time of year.Top