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» April 3, 2006 «
Cold, rainy early-spring weather punishes strawberries being grown in the Santa Maria Valley, but farmers say shoppers may not notice. Rain has taken a toll on Santa Maria's berry fields. Ripe berries damaged by rain can't be sold fresh and instead are sold for juice at a much lower price. Fresh strawberries continue to reach market from fields in Southern California. Farmers in Santa Maria say they hope to increase their production in time for Easter.
If they can ever get into their fields to plant, California rice growers intend to seed more acres this spring. A government report issued Friday says farmers expect to plant about 4 percent more rice this year than they did a year ago. In all, farmers could plant 550,000 acres of California rice. But actual acreage will depend on what the weather allows. Steady rains so far this spring have hampered farmers' ability to prepare rice fields for seeding.
Strong demand for the state's most widely planted field crop has encouraged farmers to plant more hay. Plantings of alfalfa and other hay varieties could increase by 100,000 acres, to more than 1.6 million acres statewide. The San Joaquin Valley Hay Growers Association says the market can probably handle the added acreage. The state's dairy farms, horse ranches and other livestock operations have increased their demand for hay.
Asia represents a significant market for California citrus-fruit farmers ... and that's why the Sunkist Growers cooperative hosted writers from Korea, China and Hong Kong on a tour of the state's growing areas. The reporters visited orange and lemon groves and toured packinghouses in Ventura County and the San Joaquin Valley. They also tasted citrus dishes along the way. The reporters work for lifestyle, travel and cooking magazines in their home countries.Top