Food & Farm News
» July 26, 2005 «
By an overwhelming margin, California winegrape growers have voted to continue assessing themselves to fight a serious vineyard threat. The assessment raises money for research into Pierce's disease, a fatal grapevine ailment carried by an insect called the glassy-winged sharpshooter. State officials announced yesterday (Monday) that almost 90 percent of the grape growers who voted favored extending the assessment through March 2011.
Continued hot weather in the Central Valley generates concerns about next year's orchard crops. Farm advisors say now is the time when fruit and nut trees develop buds. Those buds will eventually provide next year's crops. However, hot weather stunts the budding process. The extent of potential damage won't be known until next spring. Crops affected include peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and almonds.
Some crops thrive in the heat. For example, cotton has developed rapidly during the hot weather in the Central Valley. The percentage of cotton plants that have set bolls has nearly doubled in a week. Growers have upgraded the condition of their crop as well, with 80 percent now rating their cotton fields as good or excellent. On the other hand, range and pastureland has deteriorated, with a third of pastures now listed in poor or very poor condition.
A new research initiative focuses on ways for farmers to reduce emissions while fumigating strawberry fields between crops. The California Strawberry Commission has granted researchers $500,000 to conduct the work. Farmers use the fumigants to remove pests from soil before planting strawberries. Preliminary research shows new production practices can reduce emissions while allowing farmers to use fumigants more effectively.
On the Calendar:
The Sonoma County Fair opens a two-week run today (Tuesday) in Santa Rosa.