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» January 25, 2006 «
California farmers and ranchers continue to shift toward new, reduced-risk and "nature-friendly" methods to battle crop pests and diseases. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation reported yesterday (Tuesday) that use of crop-protection materials approved for organic agriculture represent a higher proportion of overall use. In releasing statistics for 2004, the department said overall use varies from year to year, based on factors including weather and crop acreage.
Above-average snowfall in the Colorado River Basin will benefit Southern California farms and cities, which count on the Colorado for much of their water supply. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the basin's overall snowpack stands at 105 percent of average. The bureau expects runoff of 103 percent of average. That should keep water levels in reservoirs on the lower Colorado River about where they are now.
Fresh California apples continue to arrive at market, as farmers harvest late-season varieties. One of those varieties, the Pink Lady, has become associated with Valentine's Day, and farmers with fruit benefit from strong demand. Overall California apple production will be about 8 million pounds less than the previous crop. Hot weather last summer reduced the apple harvest, and acreage has declined a bit as well.
Researchers say a new computer database will help ranchers manage their grazing land. The program analyzes historical and simulated data, and predicts future plant growth. That will guide ranchers in deciding how many animals to graze on native range. The program's developers say it provides more accurate predictions about potential plant growth, so ranchers can adjust to drought or other conditions that affect pastures.Top