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» August 15, 2005 «
There were 62 new cases of equine West Nile virus infections reported in California last week. That brings the total thus far this year to 148 of which 67 have died. Four counties reported their first case of the year--Contra Costa, Nevada, Shasta and Ventura. It wasn't until September last year that more than 140 cases were reported, which leads authorities to fear this year will see a dramatic jump in horses with West Nile.
Federal government forecasts are for a 20 percent increase in California's olive crop over last year. Growers in Northern California say rain fell there during bloom and the crop set is spotty. There is a better set in Tulare County, but because of hot weather the fruit is not sizing well. Farmers hope for a cooler September. One positive about the heat is the olive fruit fly does not like it and insect numbers are down because of it.
Apricot growers remain bearish about their sector of the farm economy. Most did not make much money from the 2005 crop. The California Fresh Apricot Council expects at least another 800 acres of trees to be taken out of production this winter. Acreage has been declining for several years, as canneries reduce their purchases because of low-cost foreign competition. Farmers have high production costs with apricots, and for the past several seasons economic returns have been low, making profitability difficult.
Pomegranate harvest started last week in the San Joaquin Valley. Farmers say the fruit is suffering from the heat and has not colored as brilliantly as they would like, nor has the fruit sized well. However, sugar content is good and flavor is excellent. Volume will remain light for the early varieties, which will be in stores from now through October 1. Once the Wonderful variety reaches maturity, volume will increase, and so will color intensity. The fruit likes cooler nights, which farmers anticipate will develop in September.Top