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» March 24, 2006 «
Pear growers with decades of experience have traditionally known that orchards along the Sacramento River would be in bloom by March 21st. But that's not the case this year. Very few pear blossoms are visible, because of the colder than average temperatures the past several weeks. Farmers aren't sure when the blooms will break. But the fact that they haven't bloomed makes pear orchards less vulnerable to the rainy weather predicted for the next few days.
Cherry blossoms in the northern San Joaquin Valley have not yet begun to open, and observers say below-average temperatures will continue to slow the bloom. A few growers say frost last month may have damaged some of their cherry blossoms. But the extent of damage won't be known until the flowers open. The late bloom itself has no impact on how large the cherry crop may be, but harvest will be delayed by as much a three weeks.
The soil remains too cold for cottonseeds to germinate, so farmers still have not started to plant this year's crop. Farmers prefer to have their cotton fields seeded by April 20th, but it remains to be seen if that goal can be met. Below-average temperatures are reported throughout the San Joaquin Valley, where most California cotton grows. To start planting, farmers need five warm days, and predictions of 10 additional warm days to follow.
Crisper, tastier apples may result from new research on the fruit. A New Zealand company says it plans to release the world's most extensive collection of apple DNA sequences. Those sequences control aspects of fruit development such as taste, color and vitamin content. The company says it will release the material into the public domain in order to speed research to breed improved apple varieties.
On the Calendar:
Third graders will learn about nutrition and meet farmers during a Farm and Nutrition Day program today (Friday) in Fresno.