Food & Farm News
» February 13, 2013 «
Young farmers and ranchers across the state donated more than 10 million pounds of food to California families last year as part of the national Harvest for All program. During a recognition ceremony Sunday at the Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in Phoenix, the state ranked first in food donations during 2012. Throughout the year, regional Young Farmers and Ranchers organizations in California participated in gleaning and collection activities. The food, supplied by farms, ranches, processors and packinghouses, arrived at food banks for distribution to families in need.
Freezing temperatures in January, coupled with continuing cool weather, have slowed strawberry production just as consumers are looking for chocolate-covered treats. Growers say that it is fairly normal for California strawberry supplies to be tight for Valentine's Day based on typical winter weather impacting early production, but a run of recent cold temperatures with highs only reaching the 50s has slowed growth further. But don't fear; a forecasted warming trend should help production increase in the coming weeks.
This time of year it is common to see sheep grazing in dormant alfalfa hay fields. The practice benefits both the alfalfa farmers and the sheep ranchers. According to University of California Cooperative Extension advisors, lambing season typically takes place in the fall and winter, and the flocks benefit from having access to high-quality feed at a time when forage is typically scarce. In turn, the sheep eat away weeds that can creep into fields as the alfalfa is dormant, ensuring a better quality of hay in the future.
Farmers who rely on rainfall to irrigate their crops say they are optimistic that the coming weeks will hold more rain to help support the fields they've already planted. Wheat is the leading California crop to be grown using dryland techniques, but vegetables, walnuts and winegrapes can also be grown this way. To be successful in California's climate, many dryland wheat growers rely on special plant varieties and a crop rotation method that leaves part of their field unplanted to preserve soil moisture.Top