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» September 21, 2007 «
A late-summer storm that swept through Northern California caused delays in harvest of several crops this week, including rice, processing tomatoes and winegrapes. One grape grower in the Suisun Valley said so much hail fell on his farm that he could have cross-country skied in his front yard. Early reports indicate little widespread damage from the storm, and farmers hope improving weather in the next few days allows them to resume harvest.
A final report on the California citrus-fruit season quantifies the impact of losses from the state's damaging January freeze. The report says the volume of the state's total citrus crop fell 27 percent from the previous season. The state lost one third of its grapefruit crop and more than one quarter of its oranges and lemons. The losses dropped the overall, on-farm value of California citrus fruit production to just less than $1 billion.
A shortage of lemons caused by the January freeze proved to be one factor that led Sunkist Growers to consolidate its citrus juice and oil operations. The Sunkist cooperative said the bulk of the lemon crop will be sold on the fresh market, leaving very little for processing into juice or lemon oil. It said it plans to close a plant in Ontario and shift operations to an existing facility in Tipton.
September marks the heart of the harvest season, and it's for that reason that safety specialists use this time of year to commemorate National Farm Safety and Health Week. On its Web site, the California Farm Bureau offers safety advice to avoid slips, trips and falls, and in operating farm equipment. The Farm Bureau safety specialist says accidents can multiply in the rush to harvest crops. Among her safety tips: Be diligent, be vigilant, and slow down.Top