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» February 3, 2006 «
An important stage is about to begin for California's top tree crop. Observers say almond bloom will be early this year. Field representatives for the Blue Diamond Growers cooperative say a few blossoms have opened in the southern San Joaquin Valley, but full bloom in those orchards remains a week away. As trees bloom, almond farmers will be watching the weather closely. Rain or frost could disrupt the bloom and shorten this year's crop.
California's food and agriculture secretary says the state government plans to enhance its existing food-safety programs. Secretary AG Kawamura visited Salinas yesterday (Thursday), to discuss the governor's proposed budget and Strategic Growth Plan. Kawamura said the proposed budget sets aside money to extend food-protection programs. One program will train people who would be the first to respond to outbreaks of animal or plant diseases.
Tons of California-grown tomatoes, vegetables and cheese will be consumed during Super Bowl Sunday festivities, in the form of pizza toppings. Pizza makers say Sunday will be one of their biggest days of the year. California is the nation's number-one producer of the tomatoes used in pizza sauce, and the number-two cheese maker. Pizza makers say they expect sales to be as much as 50 percent higher than on a typical Sunday.
Artichokes from the Central California coast are already reaching market. Growers in the Castroville area say supplies have not reached peak levels yet, but the plants are producing excellent quality artichokes, earlier than usual. The early harvest does raise concern about a late frost or heavy rain that would create problems. But, barring that, artichoke farmers say they expect a good season. Volume has been rising daily, so shoppers should see more abundant supplies at retail stores.Top