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» March 16, 2007 «
Farm Bureau and other farm groups have been asked to send observers to Korea next week for the final negotiations with that nation on a free trade agreement. Negotiators face a March 31 deadline to complete a treaty to allow the necessary 90 days for Congress to review it before the president's trade negotiation authority expires July 1. Agreements are being sought for rice, beef, citrus and grapes along with many manufactured products. The Farm Bureau delegation wants to make certain tariff reductions are fair to both countries.
Rice farmers are draining their fields in preparation for the planting season. Waterfowl, which spend the winter on the flooded rice fields, are leaving for their summer homes. Once the soil dries farmers will work it in preparation to flood them again to plant this year's crop. Estimates are that farmers will plant no more than 550,000 acres in rice this year, slightly more than last year's 526,000.
Frost damage to California blueberry bushes was relatively minor, according to the California Blueberry Association. Growers along the coast had more damage than those in the Central Valley. Blueberries also require winter chill hours, and this year was better than most. The Central Valley crop bloomed a little late, but the bushes are on a pace to mature at the average time. The first harvest should begin about the end of April and California berries should be on the market through June.
Ojai Valley Pixie mandarin growers say their crop survived the winter freeze. The pixie is a special seedless fruit that is available at farmers' markets and specialty grocery stores. Farmers say fruit quality is excellent. The season is always short, and this year should last from now until May. Farmers successfully worked their orchards to save the fruit from freezing temperatures that hit the valley in January.Top