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» December 14, 2005 «
The continued popularity of almonds, among both consumers and farmers, assures that more almond trees will be planted in California next year. Nursery operators say the pace of almond plantings does appear to be slowing somewhat, as farmers order trees for new orchards. Almonds are already the most widely planted orchard crop in California. Walnut trees also remain in demand, especially the new varieties that mature more quickly
Two straight small crops from California orchards have forced marketers to import more prunes. Prunes, marketed as dried plums, grow in Central Valley orchards that typically meet most demand from within the U.S. But the Prune Bargaining Association says imports have risen sharply the past two years, to make up for what it calls "back-to-back crop disasters" here. Weather problems when prune trees bloom in the spring have caused the recent small crops.
There's progress to report, in work to create grapevines that resist a fatal plant disease. A state agricultural official says University of California researchers have made progress in developing vines that resist Pierce's disease. Government agencies and grape growers have cooperated to sponsor more than 100 research projects aimed at combating Pierce's disease and an insect that spreads it.
Dates have long been a favorite food during the holidays, and growers in the California desert say they have plentiful supplies to offer. Farmers say weather for date growing has been perfect this fall, with no wind to knock fruit off the palm trees and no rain to create problems. Harvest will continue into January, but the fruit is available all year. The California Date Commission is working to encourage consumption throughout the year, stressing the health benefits of the fruit.
On the Calendar:
The State Board of Food and Agriculture discusses the status of the food-processing business, biofuels and other topics during its meeting today (Wednesday) in Sacramento.