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» October 6, 2006 «
They've already been delayed by rain during the planting season, and Salinas Valley lettuce farmers say the rain that fell there this week will cause an extra, brief delay. Because the crop was planted late, there's still plenty of lettuce waiting to be harvested. Farmers say they expect fields to dry quickly and the harvest to resume. They don't anticipate crop damage from the rain, though there's concern that fungal diseases could develop.
There's always uncertainty about what it means, because El Niño conditions sometimes cause wet years in California, and sometimes lead to dry years. But forecasters say they're certain that stronger evidence of an El Niño pattern is developing in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Meteorologists measure ocean temperatures as one predictor of winter weather. The National Weather Service says El Niño conditions should intensify through the rest of the year and into 2007.
Production is climbing, and prices for gasoline and diesel fuel continue to decline, according to the California Energy Commission. Refiners produced more than a million barrels of gasoline a day last week and diesel production is running almost 10 percent more than a year ago at this time. Farmers have seen diesel fuel prices fall during the late-summer and autumn harvest season. The average price of diesel fuel dropped 7 cents a gallon in the past week, to $2.84.
After working on it for 15 years, California crop breeders have developed a novel product they hope will enhance beverages and snacks. Celery straws look like typical celery … but have hollow stems. Marketers say the celery straws add flavor to tomato drinks and other beverages, and can also be stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese. Salinas-based researchers for Duda Farm Fresh Foods developed the new product.Top