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» August 9, 2005 «
Farmers are paying higher diesel fuel prices just as harvest approaches for many. They have to absorb added costs because prices for their products are set by supply and demand. With crude oil prices at record levels there is little hope for price declines. Growers also face higher transportation costs as truckers add fuel surcharges. Thus far farmers have been able to find enough trucks and rail cars to meet their shipping needs.
All fresh Brussels sprouts now in retail stores come from California fields. Harvest in the Santa Cruz area started last month, but volume is low. Farmers were able to plant early, but second plantings were delayed by rain. Consumers will find limited amounts of the vegetable until fall, when demand usually picks up and so should supplies. Farmers say prices from the first picking were the highest ever, but since have plunged to the break even level. Quality is reported as excellent, because weather during the growing season was ideal.
California strawberry growers continue their record production. As of the end of July growers have produced just over a billion pounds of fruit, which is about 10 percent more than last year at this time. The California Strawberry Commission predicted a harvest of a billion 250 million pounds and farmers are on a pace to achieve that. Most of the production now is from the Salinas-Watsonville area where weather is ideal for growing strawberries.
Kern County almond farmers have started harvest. On average harvest begins between August 5 and 15. The bloom was early, but cool weather after bloom slowed nut development. Then as temperatures warmed, the crop caught up and matured about the usual time. Growers say it is too early to determine crop volume, but forecasters say it may be as much as 10 percent less than last year due to weather.Top