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» August 18, 2005 «
California schoolchildren would benefit from more, locally grown produce in school lunches, under a bill being considered in the state Legislature. Farm groups support the bill to develop a direct farm-to-school program for fruits and vegetables. The program would also train school food service directors on how to buy and use seasonal produce from local farmers. Supporters say the program would improve students' health and nutrition while providing new markets for family farms.
This month's prolonged heat wave has caused a gap in supplies of peaches, nectarines and plums from Central Valley orchards. That, in turn, has farmers concerned that fruit buyers may turn to other sources to stock their shelves … and may not resume buying tree fruit when it becomes more readily available. It hasn't been an easy year for tree fruit farmers, in part because rains and cool weather earlier in the growing season created ideal conditions for fungal diseases to attack crops.
Demand for harvest help will soon surge in the San Joaquin Valley, as the annual raisin grape harvest hits full stride. Growers of other crops say many of their harvest crews have been light this year, leaving raisin producers worried about their ability to hire enough help. Raisins traditionally require large numbers of people to pick the grapes and place them on drying trays. Mechanical raisin harvesting has replaced some hand labor requirements.
Crop forecasters say they expect reduced production of most California field crops this season. Farmers generally planted fewer acres of field crops, and weather has further reduced the anticipated harvests. A forecast predicts smaller crops of cotton, hay, oats, rice and sugar beets. Forecasters say the state's farmers should produce more dry beans, as they have greatly increased plantings of baby lima beans this season.
On the Calendar:
The Modoc District Fair starts today (Thursday) in Cedarville.