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» December 20, 2006 «
The final pre-holiday shipment of California-grown cut flowers to East Coast markets leaves by air today (Wednesday). Demand for flowers surges at Christmastime. It's the third heaviest demand period for cut flowers but, with plant sales figured in, Christmas is the biggest day of the year. Poinsettias are the top-selling plant, and mixed bouquets lead flower sales. With their final Christmas flowers sent, farmers now turn their full attention to Valentine's Day.
Nursery operators around California work to protect their plants from cold weather. Greenhouse owners often rely on natural gas to keep buildings and plants warm. Most have updated their greenhouses to use heat as efficiently as possible. Nursery operators cover outside plants with cloth or other materials to keep them from freezing. Some growers pump hot water through buried pipes near plant roots to keep them warm on chilly nights.
Chilly nights bring cheer to cherry farmers. The California Cherry Advisory Board says frosty November and December weather causes trees to go dormant. Cherries and other deciduous trees depend on chilling during the off-season to prompt a strong bloom in the spring. Consumers will find ripe cherries in supermarkets in time for Christmas, in the form of imports from Chile. California-grown cherries will be available again next May.
Diesel fuel prices in California have eased, partially, from a sharp increase earlier in the month. The California Energy Commission says diesel fuel prices dropped an average of 5 cents a gallon this week. That follows a 15-cent hike the week before, linked to short supplies of the fuel in all Western states. The average price is now $2.92 a gallon. Gasoline prices, meanwhile, have jumped in recent days.Top