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» May 26, 2010 «
Early varieties of peaches and nectarines are beginning to show up on retail produce shelves. Farmers say their fruit is seven to 10 days later than average because of cooler temperatures this spring. Table grapes are maturing as much as two weeks later than average because of the weather. Warmer temperatures would help the fruit ripen faster. Adding to farmers concerns this week are the forecasts for rain, which could damage fruit on the trees.
Sweet potato farmers have been slowed in their planting operations by the cool, wet spring. Sweet potatoes planted in April have not grown as rapidly as usual because of a lack of heat units or warm temperatures. The Sweet Potato Council of California expects farmers to plant more acreage this year than they did last. But, harvest will start later than average because the potatoes are growing slower in the cool weather.
Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the grilling season and consumers buy all sorts of cuts of beef to prepare on backyard grills. Retailers usually feature beef in ads for the holiday and consumers should find good beef supplies in stores. Ranchers have been encouraged by the rain this winter, which has nourished rangeland grasses and filled stock ponds. However, many will wait to see if next winter provides average or above average precipitation before deciding to expand their herds.
A newly discovered disease that kills black walnut trees is becoming a significant problem in California. "Thousand cankers" disease is caused by a newly discovered fungus and is carried by the tiny walnut beetle. So far it's been found in 15 California counties, from Los Angeles to Sutter. There is no cure or prevention program known, but researchers are working to find one. The disease attacks mainly black walnut trees, but has been found on some hybrid walnut trees in orchards. Infected trees must be burned to stop the spread.Top