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» September 16, 2005 «
Rapidly rising prices for natural gas in the wake of Hurricane Katrina come at a bad time for companies that dry fruits and nuts. Dehydrators that use natural gas to turn prunes into dried plums saw gas prices nearly double from 60 cents a therm to $1.10. Most of the prunes are dried by cooperatives that can't pass along their added cost. Operators of almond nut dryers face similar problems.
It's a slow start for the winegrape harvest along the North Coast. Cool weather has kept the grapes from developing the needed sugar, though observers say grape flavors are developing well. Cloudy, cool mornings mean crews can't pick until the grapes dry from evening dew. Farmers worry that a delayed harvest could leave grapes vulnerable to rain. However, they say if warm, dry weather develops this should be an excellent vintage for most varieties.
A bill to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals was among those signed by Governor Schwarzenegger at the start of a Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity in Sacramento yesterday (Thursday). The governor called the summit to encourage better eating habits and regular exercise for all Californians. A farmer in attendance handed out fresh peaches to participants, who included some 800 schoolchildren, there to participate in a one-kilometer walk around the state fairgrounds.
Beginning farmers from California will soon be able to participate in a pilot program to help them purchase farmland. The U.S. Agriculture Department said yesterday it will expand the program to California and two other states. It provides government-backed loan guarantees to beginning farmers who want to own and operate family farms. The program will guarantee up to five contracts in each of the participating states.
On the Calendar:
The Mendocino County Fair and Apple Show begins today (Friday) in Boonville and the El Dorado Harvest Fair starts in Placerville. There–s a Peach Festival in Live Oak tomorrow (Saturday).