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» February 13, 2006 «
A record crush at California wineries could influence retail wine prices. A state report (issued Friday) shows that wineries crushed more than 4.3 million tons of grapes last year, up 19 percent from the previous season. Observers say the large grape crop leaves some wineries with big inventories of wine to sell ... and that means consumers may see bargains on their favorite varieties.
Dairy farmers learned they'll earn less next month, as on-farm milk prices continue a downward trend. The state Department of Food and Agriculture uses a complex formula to set farm milk prices, and says the average price will drop about nine cents a gallon on March 1st. The price will drop to an average of $1.14 a gallon. Lower prices for cheese, butter and powdered milk led to the decline.
Usually, California cling peach trees bloom the first week of March. However, due to this year's weather farmers expect bloom to occur at least a week early. Ideally, the trees would be exposed to 800 hours of chilling temperatures, below 45 degrees, during the winter. Thus far, orchards have experienced only about 600 hours. Farmers don't yet know if that could reduce the cling-peach crops they harvest this summer.
A salamander that lives in the forests of Northern California may be removed from the state's list of threatened species. A state agency now says the Siskiyou Mountains salamander appears never to have been threatened in the first place. The state Department of Fish and Game will hold a hearing about the salamander in Redding next month. It says new studies show that there are many more salamanders, in a much wider range, than authorities once believed.Top