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» March 3, 2010 «
More plentiful precipitation this winter helps reservoirs recover after three dry years. The largest reservoir in California, Lake Shasta, now holds an average supply of water for this time of year, though other reservoirs have still not recovered to that degree. But the rains have not restored water supplies. The federal Central Valley Project can guarantee only 5 percent supplies to many farm customers, while the State Water Project forecasts it will deliver 15 percent supplies.
California wheat farmers are benefiting from the winter rain. Many growers in Southern California plant wheat on land where irrigation water isn't available. Those dry land farmers say they expect a better crop this year, as there has been timely rain. The rain means some farmers will need to protect their wheat from fungal diseases. California ranks 18th in the nation in wheat production. Harvest usually starts in May.
Researchers are developing new potato varieties that resist attacks by pests and diseases. There are even potatoes developed to resist pests in specific geographical areas. At the same time scientists are developing colored potatoes, which consumers prize for brightening potato salads and other colorful dishes. Demand for colored potatoes has been growing, but slowed during the recession. However, farmers plan to continue expanding production of the new potato varieties as consumer demand recovers.
This is National Weights and Measures Week. County sealers of weights and measures are commemorating the establishment of national standards for weighing and measuring equipment. President John Adams signed legislation March 2, 1799 which established standards for interstate commerce. The California Department of Food and Agriculture operates the program. Consumers can be confident they receive a full gallon of gas or milk or a pound of meat under those standards. Inspectors are trained to monitor scales and pumps for accuracy and equity. Consumers can see the accuracy seals when they purchase goods.Top