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» January 13, 2006 «
Potential production of renewable ethanol fuel in California could reach 2 billion gallons a year, according to a report released yesterday (Thursday) by the California Research Bureau. The report says farmers will plant corn and other crops grown specifically for fuel production. It says the largest potential rests with ethanol made from rice straw, tree trimmings and other "biomass." But the report notes that creation of fuel from biomass faces technical and logistical challenges.
After success in developing blueberries that will thrive in the Central Valley, a University of California researcher says he's seeking other alternative crops for farmers to grow. Farm advisor Manuel Jimenez says he's hopeful about blackberry varieties grown in a way that shields the berries from the valley sun. Jimenez has also been experimenting with papaya trees, and says results of his test plantings will be evaluated later this winter.
Consumers should find good supplies of California-grown lemons at retail stores. Production is winding down in desert growing regions, as the lemon harvest shifts to coastal and San Joaquin Valley farms. A government crop report issued yesterday calls overall quality of California lemons "very good." California farms produce most of the lemons grown in the U.S. Ventura County is the state's top lemon-growing region.
Milk prices will stabilize next month, at the farm level. On-farm milk prices fell by the equivalent of a dime a gallon during December and January. The California Department of Food and Agriculture says prices will decline again on February 1st, but only by a fraction of a cent. At current levels, farmers earn about $1.25 for each gallon of milk they sell.
On the Calendar:
The impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on California agriculture will be discussed at a University of California conference today (Friday) in Sacramento.