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» July 12, 2006 «
Attracted by strong demand, farmers have planted more wild rice in California this year. Wild rice isn't actually rice, but a form of grass, which has caught the interest of consumers. The California Wild Rice Advisory Board says demand for the crop far exceeded supplies a year ago. The board says sales of seed for wild rice grew significantly, indicating an increase in planting. Most California-grown wild rice comes from the Sacramento Valley.
Because of a delayed harvest, some supermarkets opted not to stock specialty melon varieties in their produce cases this summer. But farmers who grow the melons say consumers will find them now at farmers' markets and some retail stores. Specialty melons such as candew, ambrosia, charlynne, French cantaloupe and orange-fleshed honeydews matured about two weeks later than average. Now that they've reached market, the melons should be available until September.
Apricot growers anticipate completing harvest of a short crop next week. The fruit has gained in size as the season developed and farmers now expect to slightly exceed the predicted 37,000-ton harvest. Processors will have enough apricots to satisfy their customer base, but won't be able to buy as much fruit as they would like. Farmers have earned higher prices, but have also seen labor rates and fuel costs rise.
Thousands of acres of hay fields remain too wet to work, and observers say some soggy fields near rivers and streams won't return to production until at least next spring. In other areas, hay production has recovered somewhat from wet weather that delayed the crop earlier this year. That's important to California livestock farmers who feed alfalfa hay to their animals. They have seen hay prices vary greatly, with prices for top-quality hay remaining high.Top