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» February 17, 2006 «
An unusually widespread Central Valley cold wave may damage the region's developing almond crop, but farmers and marketers say it will be several days before they can assess the impact. A field representative for the Blue Diamond Growers almond cooperative says orchards throughout the valley have been exposed to potentially damaging temperatures. The extent of damage will depend on the stage of the orchard's development, how cold the temperatures drop and how long the low temperatures last.
Mild weather previously in February set the stage for an earlier mosquito season, prompting veterinarians to issue renewed warnings about the threat that West Nile virus poses to California horses. The state Department of Food and Agriculture noted yesterday (Thursday) that the virus killed more than 200 California horses last year. But a vaccine is available for horses, and the department urges horse owners to vaccinate their animals now.
Wheat breeders at the University of California, Davis, will lead a nationwide study aimed at improving one of the world's staple crops. The U.S. Agriculture Department announced yesterday that scientists at 18 universities will cooperate on the project. Using a new technology, the researchers will mark parts of the wheat plant's genes that contribute desired characteristics. The USDA says the study will help plant breeders develop drought-resistant wheat and improve crop yields.
Strong foreign demand for nuts, fruits and vegetables caused government forecasters to raise their export predictions for the current sales year. A report issued yesterday shows increased foreign demand for almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts grown in California, plus improved exports of apples and table grapes. Overall, U.S. farm exports should set a record this year ... although imports of farm goods are rising at a more rapid pace and will set records, too.Top