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» February 6, 2006 «
California flower growers have begun shipping blossoms for Valentine's Day. The California Cut Flower Commission says shipments typically begin about February 1st to assure delivery to florists in time for the holiday. Roses remain the most popular Valentine flower, but mixed bouquets are gaining in popularity. California farmers stress quality and freshness in marketing their flowers against increasing competition from Central and South America.
Above-average temperatures this winter have helped farmers who grow flowers in greenhouses. They say their natural gas bills have been higher this year, but the price has not gone up as much as they had feared. Growers say they set thermostats a few degrees lower in order to save on heating costs, but have not noticed any sharp decline in production. Production remains on schedule for the big flower-selling holidays: Valentine's Day, Easter and Mother's Day.
Southern California cattle ranchers again face prospects of drought. Rangeland south of Fresno hasn't had a good soaking rain since late November. Although those autumn rains stimulated grass growth, ranchers say dry weather since then has caused forage gradually to dry out. Without rain in the next two weeks, ranchers will need to start hauling feed to their animals. Hay costs are high, as are fuel prices for trucks to haul the feed.
A disease that damaged California wheat three years ago has stayed away from this year's crop. Thus far, wheat growers have reported no sightings of striped rust disease. When the disease arrived in California, it was observed shortly after the rainy season began. Farmers are more aware of the problem now and check their fields regularly. The California Wheat Commission says farm advisors have issued papers suggesting treatment methods.Top