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» November 20, 2006 «
More than 60 million poinsettia plants will be sold during the holidays, and California farmers say their peak sales season starts this week. Poinsettias have traditionally been sold as potted plants, but the nation's largest producer will begin selling fresh-cut poinsettias this year. The president of Ecke Ranch in San Diego County says he expects excellent demand for the cut flowers, which will be used in holiday-themed bouquets.
More California crops will soon benefit from year-round pest-management plans developed by the University of California. UC says "integrated pest management" programs for alfalfa, avocados, pears and tomatoes will be available early next year. Among other things, the programs identify pest-management practices that improve environmental quality. UC has already developed the year-round programs for seven other California crops.
A fast, reliable test to protect citrus trees from plant disease will be the goal of research to be conducted in California. The U.S. Agriculture Department gave its highest rating to a project to combat citrus greening. The disease weakens and kills citrus trees and reached the U.S. for the first time last year, in Florida. A researcher at a USDA lab in Parlier says early detection of the microbe is key to stopping its spread.
Demand for garlic continues to increase. Analysts say per-person consumption of garlic remains ahead of levels from a decade ago. A report cites the popularity of ethnic foods and positive health news about garlic as two factors. California farms produce nearly 90 percent of domestically grown garlic. But imports from China have surged during the past decade, and now represent nearly three quarters of all fresh garlic sold in the U.S.Top