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» September 20, 2006 «
Farmers continue to cooperate with health officials investigating the cause of illnesses linked to California spinach. Farm advisors say spinach crops left unharvested can retain their nutritional value for several weeks. Most farmers grow spinach under contract with buyers, who specify how large the leaves should be when harvested. As a result, many farmers have a fairly narrow window to harvest. Spinach being grown in the Salinas Valley will remain in season into November.
For the third time in a week, state officials have announced a new infestation of the Oriental fruit fly. An eradication program for the fly begins today (Wednesday) in Northridge. Last week, crews began eradicating infestations found in Rialto and Hollywood. The fly threatens hundreds of California-grown fruits, vegetables and plants. Crews attack it by applying small patches of attractant and bait, high on trees and utility poles in the infested area.
The success of a pilot program encourages state pest officials fighting the glassy-winged sharpshooter. That insect spreads a plant disease fatal to grapevines and other crops. The pilot program, known as "Contain the Spread," prevents sharpshooters from hitchhiking on nursery plants shipped from infested areas. It combines plant treatments with other strict protocols. The state Department of Food and Agriculture now wants to expand it by including a few additional nurseries.
Sugar beet farmers who are finishing their harvest in the San Joaquin Valley already expect next year's crop to be smaller. That's because the severe July heat wave destroyed some of the young plants expected to produce the 2007 crop. The California Sugar Beet Growers Association says the losses won't affect the overall availability of sugar. In the state's main sugar-growing area, the Imperial Valley, farmers are now planting next year's crop.Top