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» April 19, 2005 «
As glassy-winged sharpshooters begin to reappear in the southern San Joaquin Valley, pest fighters have called in reinforcements from the insect world. A new species of parasitic wasp will soon be approved for release. The tiny wasp destroys sharpshooter eggs, and appears to be more efficient than other natural predators. The sharpshooters carry a disease that kills grapevines and other plants. Authorities in Tulare and Kern counties say they're finding more sharpshooters in traps.
As crop planting accelerates in Central and Northern California, farmers hope to see fuel prices come down. Wholesale gasoline and diesel prices have dropped dramatically in the past week, in part reflecting lower crude oil prices. The California Energy Commission says it typically takes three to four weeks for wholesale declines to be reflected at retail pumps. Analysts say a demand increase might moderate any upcoming decline in retail fuel prices.
It started early, and now the peak springtime artichoke harvest is ending early, too. Artichoke plants typically produce large quantities into May, but warm and rainy spring weather caused the peak to arrive earlier. Farmers along the Central Coast now shift to their summer plants, and hope for foggy, cool weather to boost production. Artichoke harvest will peak again during the fall.
Wine sales continue to benefit from a marketing boost provided by the movie "Sideways." Several wineries have launched promotions tied to the film's recent release on DVD. Because one of the film's characters expresses devotion to the pinot noir variety, sales of those wines have seen a particular boost. But observers say the movie has added to a general increase in wine sales across the United States.Top