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» April 4, 2008 «
Despite fire and drought, California avocado farmers could still sell more fruit this season than they did the previous year. The California Avocado Commission forecasts a 45 percent production increase. Some avocado trees suffered damage in wildfires last fall, and water shortages have removed other trees from production. But the commission says the remaining trees show recovery from the damaging freeze that reduced the previous season's avocado crop.
Low fruit prices, combined with concerns about the availability of water and harvest workers, caused Central Valley farmers to remove large blocks of peach, plum and nectarine trees this offseason. Observers say farmers pull trees every year, but that this season's orchard removals are somewhat larger than usual. The California Grape and Tree Fruit League says many farmers lost money on tree fruit last year, in part because of larger-than-expected harvests.
The prices farmers earn for asparagus have dropped below the cost of production, so some farmers have started "rolling" their fields. According to the California Asparagus Commission, that means farmers roll equipment over the asparagus, incorporating it into the soil. Chronic low prices have encouraged some farmers to remove asparagus permanently. A government report issued yesterday (Thursday) shows a 17 percent drop in California asparagus acreage, compared to last spring.
Water supplies should be sufficient to meet all Klamath Project responsibilities. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the project, said yesterday that an average water year in the Klamath River will allow it to deliver 400,000 acre-feet of irrigation water to Klamath Basin farmers. The season-opening projection is the same as last year's, but the bureau cautions that water deliveries could still be affected by weather changes or other factors.Top