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» May 23, 2005 «
Strong demand, reduced production and rain have contributed to sharply higher prices for the key food for dairy cows. The top-quality hay preferred on California dairies now sells for as much as $210 a ton, up about $50 from the same time last year. Hay production in some locations is half what it was a year ago, and some hay that was cut during rainstorms has lost quality, further reducing supplies.
Scars caused by hail have become more discernable on pears growing in Lake and Mendocino counties. The crop not only was damaged by hail, but there was some frost damage, and rain at bloom caused poor pollination. Since, cool temperatures have retarded fruit growth. The North Coast pear crop appears to be at least 30 percent smaller than usual, but agricultural commissioners will conduct surveys next month to assess crop losses.
High housing costs in coastal winemaking regions prompt local vintners and growers to work for affordable farmworker housing. In San Luis Obispo, for example, winemakers and farmers donate to a fund that helps workers with housing, health care and other concerns. In Napa County, a local housing organization gave the Napa Valley Vintners organization its "Housing Hero" award, recognizing a series of donations for farmworker housing.
It's called the "Defender," and the new variety of potato earns the name by resisting a serious plant disease. Federal research scientists developed the potato and say it makes excellent french fries. It's also the only potato that naturally resists "late blight" disease. That makes it ideal for both organic and conventional production. Researchers field-tested the variety in California and other states before releasing the Defender potato to growers.Top