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» September 21, 2005 «
Raisin growers in the Kerman area of Fresno County report a heavy rain shower damaged their crop. Turning grapes on the trays can salvage some, but that requires labor that is in short supply this year. The Raisin Bargaining Association says farmers will be competing for labor with farmers who've not yet picked their grapes. And, growers have been denied an extension of time beyond September 20 to qualify for crop insurance.
Eight buyers from Central American nations took part in a tour organized by the California Farm Bureau Federation recently. Its purpose was to give buyers and sellers the chance to take the first step in building potential business relationships. When Central American nations lower their tariffs on U.S. produce on January 1, California grown products will be more reasonably priced for consumers. The buyers were interested in fresh fruits and vegetables as well as canned and frozen foods and California wines.
Cotton and rice are both ripening slower than average in California, according to federal inspectors. Only 37 percent of cotton bolls are open compared to 78 percent a year ago at this time. No harvesting has begun, but harvest may start later than average this year. Growers report 15 percent of their acreage is only in fair condition. Rice harvest has started, but only 5 percent is complete compared to 28 percent last year. Farmers say 51 percent of their crop is in only fair condition.
California cantaloupe growers are competing with the Athena melon in the eastern part of the country. Athenas are football shaped but are similar to cantaloupe in taste. They grow well in the muggy climates of the East. The competition is keenest in the middle states as both melons are heavy and cost more to haul, which is a major factor with high diesel fuel prices. The California Melon Research Advisory Board says growers had good prices at the start of the season, and prices have rebounded now as the season winds down.
On the Calendar:
The Kern County Fair opens today (Wednesday) in Bakersfield.