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» December 19, 2006 «
Ventura County tree farmers whose orchards were damaged by the wildfire around Moorpark fear the current cold weather may cause further damage. Trees that are scorched near the roots probably are dead, but other trees show lighter damage and might be salvaged. But roots that are exposed to the cold are vulnerable and although irrigation water can provide warmth, trees without leaves cannot take too much water. Farmers say it will be at least six months before the total damage from the fire is known.
The second cold snap of the season has sent temperatures down all over the state. However farm advisors say it wasn't cold enough long enough to do major damage. Growers are prepared for cold in areas prone to frost and use wind machines or irrigation water to warm temperatures. It was as cold as 29 degrees in Ventura County, but farmers report the duration was short lived. Similar readings prevailed in the Central Valley, where growers also used various frost-protection devices.
Dwarf mistletoe is a serious problem for California fir trees. Tree farmers call it a serious pathogen that reduces yields. It is not like the mistletoe used in Christmas displays, but it too is a parasite that retards tree growth and can kill the tree if left unchecked. California growers say chemical treatment is the only practical way to control dwarf mistletoe. It is spread by wind, animals and birds and is found throughout the fir forest growing regions of California.
Ethanol producers are developing a new market for a byproduct of the fuel additive, distiller's grain. The grain is high in protein, fiber and oils and has been sold for livestock feed. However, marketers are opening markets that will boost Asian imports of distiller's grain. By drying it, shelf life is extended, allowing it to be shipped greater distances. That additional market should also help corn growers with better prices for their grain. Corn prices this year are at 10-year highs.Top