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» January 23, 2007 «
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has declared an emergency, which will allow insurance adjusters from other states to help assess California's crop damage from recent freezing temperatures. He told a news conference there might be more than a billion dollars in crop damage, including about $700 million to citrus. Out-of-state adjusters will almost double the numbers in the field to get claims settled as soon as possible. The commissioner estimates that 90 percent of the crops have some insurance.
It has been dry in most of California this month. Winter wheat farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have started irrigating their crop. Others say they will if it doesn–t rain within a week. Wheat prices remain strong, providing an incentive for farmers to irrigate. In the south, dry land growers are looking at other crops that require less water. However, dry conditions keep fungal diseases down, and some farmers say they produce better quality grain when it is dry.
In addition to losing some of their crops to the freeze, thieves are now stealing fruit that remains. In San Diego County, thieves took about 46-hundred pounds of organic avocados over the weekend. Prices have increased due to diminished supplies caused by the freeze. Growers and sheriff–s deputies are stepping up crime prevention efforts. But, farmers are exhausted after spending nights in their orchards fighting cold temperatures. Now that they are not in the orchards, thieves are taking advantage and stealing what they can.
California strawberry growers set a new production record last year, harvesting about 325 million pounds more than they did in 2005. The California Strawberry Commission says farmers were on a pace for a new record this year the first two weeks of January, but since the freeze, production has ended. However, often cold weather strengthens strawberry plants so that as they come back into production, they will produce more fruit. The commission expects strawberry production to return to pre-freeze levels in about six weeks.Top