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» July 26, 2006 «
Heat damage to strawberries along the California coast is minimal, according to the California Strawberry Commission. It was very hot, 104 in Salinas Sunday, but cooling ocean winds have returned temperatures to what is average for this time of year. Strawberries mature fast in hot weather, and pickers can't keep up so some fruit is soft and not marketable. But, in the overall scheme of things, damage is minor.
Processing tomato growers are reporting some damage from heat. Harvest crews are finding some split tomatoes, which limits marketability. The plants shut down in the heat and the fruit doesn't ripen. This is the time plants that will be harvested in September are blossoming, and some of the flowers are falling off plants without being pollinated. Growers fear yields will be lower when they harvest in September.
Sweet potato harvest has started in the San Joaquin Valley. The early variety ready for harvest produces small volume, and the heavier volume will begin in another week. Growers say the crop is developing well and quality should be excellent. The hot weather doesn't adversely affect sweet potatoes. Fresh sweet potatoes will hit the market at the same time those in cold storage from last year run out.
Sugar beets aren't affected by the heat. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are continuing their harvest, while Imperial Valley growers have concluded for this year. Imperial County farmers are getting fields ready for planting the 2007 crop, which starts in September. Dairy farmers use sugar beet pulp to feed their animals. It is especially valuable in the hot weather as it provides animals high protein food which is easy to digest.Top