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» March 9, 2007 «
The stage is set for what's likely to be a smaller Central Valley cotton crop. Farmers can begin planting cotton tomorrow (Saturday). The date is set by rules to prevent crop pests. The marketing cooperative Calcot estimates about half a million acres will be planted, down about 65,000 acres from last season. Some growers may plant more corn or fresh tomatoes instead of cotton this year, and some are switching to permanent crops such as almonds.
Agricultural disasters have been declared in four more California counties, due to crop damage suffered during the January freeze. The U.S. Agriculture Department said yesterday (Thursday) it had issued disaster designations for Los Angeles, Marin, Solano and Ventura counties. At least two-dozen counties have been declared disasters because of the freeze, and Governor Schwarzenegger submitted requests this week that the USDA add Mendocino and San Diego counties to the list.
Grass growth has resumed on many Northern and Central California pastures, thanks to last month's rainstorms. That's good news for cattle ranchers and other livestock owners, who depend on the grass to provide forage for their animals. Ranchers would like to see more rain, but say heavy dew that covers many pastures each morning helps to keep the grass green. Many Southern California ranches missed out on the rain, though, and must provide their animals with supplemental water and feed.
Harsh winter weather in other parts of the country has reduced the number of cattle reaching feedlots. As a result, cattle prices hit a three-year high on the Chicago markets yesterday. California ranchers may benefit, because they have young animals ready for market now, while ranchers elsewhere won't have saleable animals until autumn. A California Beef Council spokeswoman says the rising cattle prices won't necessarily mean sharp increases in consumer beef prices.Top