Food & Farm News
» January 11, 2012 «
Families are getting their first taste of 2012 California strawberries as the harvest has kicked off in the southern half of the state. The California Strawberry Commission reports that dry weather in Orange, Ventura and San Diego counties has helped keep the harvest—which began in December—on track. Farmers also report that they are irrigating more than usual because of the lack of rain. So far the outlook for the strawberry crop is good, with more than one thousand additional acres being planted this year compared to last year. The final crop numbers will depend upon weather through the rest of the harvest season.
On the Central Coast, winegrape growers are in the midst of pruning dormant vines. Pruning began in mid-December and will wrap up in mid-February. The Central Coast Wine Growers Association says that after two years with frost damage, growers in the region—spanning from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara—are hoping for plentiful rains and no frost so they can return to normal yields. Some growers are currently irrigating their vineyards, and others are taking proactive steps to control weeds.
As the weeks without rain stretch into months, California ranchers are bringing cattle supplemental feed to make up for the lack of grasses. The U.S. Agriculture Department reports that the quality of rangelands continues to deteriorate, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection increased staffing because of the higher-than-normal fire danger. Red Flag Warnings were issued in the Western Sierra as well as Southern California last week. Beyond growing grass, ranchers need rains to replenish water sources that serve grazing cattle, sheep and goats.
People from around the world are interested in entertaining vacations where they can hike, fish and ride horses in rural settings, according to a University of Mississippi researcher. Dr. Daryl Jones spoke at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 93rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu this week and said that farmers and ranchers have an opportunity to expand their businesses by inviting guests to visit their farms. He said that tourists are interested in cultural experiences and talking one-on-one with farmers and ranchers about the land.Top