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» November 2, 2006 «
It's a race against the weather for California rice farmers. They've been working long hours to try to harvest the rest of their crop before the rain that's predicted in the next few days. Even after the rain starts, farmers will keep operating their combines until the rain makes fields too wet to work. All but about 6 percent of the rice crop has been harvested by now. What remains are mainly late-season varieties and rice that was planted late due to the wet spring.
Fresh tomato supplies have improved, and wholesale prices have declined some. Tomatoes had been in short supply earlier in the autumn because of reduced production linked to the July heat wave. California tomato production now shifts to the southern part of the state, while farms in Central California wind down their harvests. Supplies of imported tomatoes from Mexico continue to be affected by crop disease that has hurt tomatoes there.
Rising demand for pomegranates and pomegranate juice has brought a steady increase in acreage, mainly in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Farmers report that this year's pomegranate crop features good sugar content and beautiful color. Harvest will continue through November. Farmers say pomegranates require skill to grow successfully, and that they're learning more with each harvest. They say they've seen strong demand domestically and in exports to Japan and other Asian markets.
A new crop pest that arrived in California this year appears to be confined to the three counties where it initially emerged. Crews continue to treat locations in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties to fight the diaprepes root weevil. A statewide postcard mailing that asked residents to report sightings of the weevil has not turned up new locations so far. The pest threatens more than 270 different plants and poses a particular threat to citrus trees.Top