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» January 25, 2007 «
Crop losses from this month's freeze surpass $1 billion already. The California Farm Bureau surveyed the counties where the governor has declared a state of emergency because of the freeze. Preliminary reports from county agricultural commissioners place crop losses at more than $1.1 billion. Those figures will be revised as more damage to more crops becomes apparent. The estimates list damage to a wide range of fruit, vegetable, field and nursery crops.
The impact of freezing temperatures has slowed the winter lettuce harvest, and also affects the appearance of some lettuce. As farmers harvest lettuce that survived the cold, some of it shows "bronzing" on the outer leaves. In a letter to its clients, a produce distribution company explains that the condition affects only the outer leaves, and the rest of the lettuce remains wholesome and good tasting.
While the weather has been cold, it's also been unusually dry ... and that worries many farmers and ranchers. Livestock ranchers say they need rain to help rangeland grasses and other crops. Longtime cattle ranchers say the weather patterns remind them of the dry times in the 1970s. Without rain soon, many ranchers may soon need to haul water and feed to their animals, or sell them before they reach their desired weight.
Handlers of leafy green crops can now sign up for a proposed marketing agreement to establish an enhanced inspection program. The state Department of Food and Agriculture said yesterday (Wednesday) that handlers should register by February 5th. The program would cover businesses that handle, process, ship or deliver leafy green crops to market. A separate program would be created for farmers who grow lettuce, spinach or other leafy greens.Top