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» March 13, 2006 «
An extended bloom period and a spate of cool, wet weather could affect production from California's cling-peach orchards. The late-winter weather has delayed and extended the peach bloom, which could cause fruit to ripen unevenly later this summer. Farmers say cold overnight temperatures could harm their crops. But they note that orchard floors remain wet, which will keep temperatures slightly warmer around the trees.
Demand for California wine boosted the price that farmers earned for winegrapes last year. A final report on the 2005 California grape crush, (issued Friday), showed that wineries paid an average price for grapes 10 percent higher than the previous year. Chardonnay was the largest grape variety in terms of volumes crushed. Overall, California wineries crushed 20 percent more grapes than they did the year before.
A turning point for the California wine business came 30 years ago, when French judges rated Napa Valley wines superior to French wines, during an event in Paris. An English wine shop owner arranged the blind tasting. A cabernet and a chardonnay from Napa emerged as the two big winners in the 1976 competition. Publicity about the results, in Time magazine and elsewhere, greatly elevated the stature of California-grown wines.
Farmers will harvest fewer Valencia oranges in California this summer. Government forecasters predicted (Friday) that the state's harvest will be down 39 percent, compared to last year. In part, that's because farmers have been removing Valencia groves. Some growers have planted late-maturing varieties of navel oranges, which mature about the same time the Valencias do. Foreign-grown navel oranges have taken much of the summer market that Valencia oranges have filled.Top