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» January 31, 2008 «
Grape growers and winemakers heard upbeat messages from speakers at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento yesterday (Wednesday). Market watchers told farmers that grape supplies and demand are in balance. Marketers say consumers are becoming aware of many more wine-producing regions of California, and growers are finding increased demand for their grapes as a result. Some farmers are planting new grape varieties to produce different wines.
Water shortages, pest invasions and the cost of farming were recurring themes, as farm-group representatives addressed the State Board of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento yesterday. The board sought advice on issues it should pursue, as it creates a work plan for the coming year. Several speakers said overlapping … and sometimes contradictory … regulations have driven up farming costs and eroded the financial sustainability of California farms and ranches.
Chilly nights in the Central Valley may make people uncomfortable, but they're just what the region's fruit and nut trees need. Those trees need to be exposed to temperatures below 45 degrees for a certain number of hours each winter, to set a good crop for the coming season. For example, apples need at least 1,200 hours of chilling, and cherries at least a thousand. Farm advisors say the state's main cherry-growing region, San Joaquin County, has already had 950 "chill hours" this winter.
High demand for eggs pushed on-farm prices upwards last month. A government report issued yesterday showed that California farmers earned an average price of $1.30 for a dozen eggs during December. That's up a nickel a dozen from November, and up 56 cents from a year earlier. Analysts say the strong prices allow egg farmers to retire debts they incurred during the lower prices of the year before.Top