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» July 14, 2006 «
California's first case of equine West Nile virus this year has been reported in Tulare County. Unfortunately the unvaccinated three-year-old quarter horse stallion died of the disease July 4. The state veterinarian is urging horse owners to take notice of the fatality and vaccinate their animals, as prevention is easier than a cure. Last year 200 horses died of the disease in California and the majority had not been vaccinated.
California cattle ranchers recently participated in a forum on the government proposed animal identification program. Ranchers understood that consumers would benefit from the program. However, they expressed concern over the cost and who would pay it. Ranchers also feared they might be held liable in lawsuits brought about by someone mishandling product long after it has left their control. The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants an animal ID program in place by 2009.
Yields from California wheat fields vary from very poor to excellent. The California Wheat Commission says growers have finished harvest in the Imperial Valley, but have another three weeks in Central Valley fields. Generally, yields are poorer the farther north the location. Weather and disease have taken their toll. But prices as high as $5 a bushel have growers signing contracts for the 2007 season. Wheat acreage in California is expected to expand next year.
California's cantaloupe harvest began a little later than average this year. Consumers should find ample supplies throughout the rest of the summer even though fewer acres have been planted. Wet conditions in February delayed planting and is responsible for the late harvest. However, farmers say weather has been ideal since the vines emerged, and quality of this year's crop should be excellent. Farmers say there are fewer insect pests than usual. Growers in other states are reporting production problems and lower yields.Top