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» March 8, 2007 «
Economics, demographics, weather and other factors pushed California egg production to its lowest level since 1958. Analysts cite several reasons, including the July heat wave and rising feed costs. A University of California specialist says many Southern California farmers are reaching retirement age, selling their land and leaving the egg business ... while the high cost of establishing new farms makes it difficult for potential growers to enter the market.
Fueled by demand for ethanol, farmers will plant much more corn this year. A report by university analysts shows nationwide corn acreage reaching its highest levels in nearly 60 years. The increased demand has pushed corn prices higher, raising costs for food manufacturers and for livestock, dairy and poultry farmers. But the new university report says the corn price surge will have relatively little impact on consumer food prices overall.
After two small crops in the past three seasons, there aren't many dried plums in inventory, so farmers hope for favorable weather as their trees begin to bloom. Prune orchards have started to bloom throughout the Central Valley, with full bloom expected later this month. Seasonable early spring weather will encourage bees to pollinate the blossoms. California farms provide virtually all the dried plums produced in the United States.
If they can't have more snow, water officials say they'd at least like to see cloudy skies above the Sierra snowpack. Recent sunshine has been melting the mountain snow faster than anticipated. With snow levels below average this winter, reservoir operators want to avoid having to release water at this point. They might have to do that if reservoir levels rise above flood-control limits. So far, that's happened only at Lake Oroville on the Feather River.Top