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» March 20, 2007 «
Surges in metal thefts and fuel thefts led to a 21 percent increase in losses related to rural crime last year. The rural crime-prevention project known as ACTION says losses in the eight San Joaquin Valley counties totaled more than $13 million. No statewide figures are available. The California Farm Bureau's crime-prevention specialist says farmers are becoming more likely to report crimes, which is another reason the loss figures rose.
Young tomato plants are being sown in fields around the Central Valley. The plants will produce the "processing tomatoes" used to make ketchup, salsa and other products. The California Tomato Growers Association says weather for the planting has been ideal, and growers say a dry spring usually means good yields. Rain predicted for this week should not cause significant problems. The association estimates farmers will plant about the same amount of land in tomatoes as they did a year ago.
An early start encourages California fig farmers. They say their crop is budding this week, a few days ahead of a typical schedule. Fig trees do not flower as other orchard crops. Instead, the fruit bud comes out of the branches and the self-pollinating flower is inside the bud. How soon harvest begins depends on weather, but usually the early fig harvest starts about the end of May, and the second, heavier harvest starts in late July.
As farmers face increasing difficulty hiring enough people to harvest their crops, olive organizations have reinvigorated research into mechanical harvesting. The California Olive Committee has underwritten studies that would update and redesign harvesting machines, and check into ways to remove olives from trees more easily. Researchers say that reducing harvest costs with machines might help keep some olive farmers in business.Top