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» April 24, 2008 «
Northern California farms appear to have absorbed the brunt of the losses, from freezing temperatures last weekend. Scattered damage has been reported in many regions, but farmers describe particular problems in North Coast vineyards and Sacramento Valley orchards. Walnut growers say many of the tiny nuts turned black from the freeze. There has been severe damage in peach and prune orchards as well. In the San Joaquin Valley, plum growers near Exeter and Porterville report losses.
While many farmers work to assess frost damage, growers of a number of crops say their fields escaped trouble. For example, strawberry growers say temperatures stayed above freezing in the coastal regions where berries are now being produced. Chilly temperatures did slow berry growth somewhat. Cherry orchards in San Joaquin County also apparently avoided damage, but farmers will continue to inspect orchards as the season progresses.
Sweet corn harvest has started in the Imperial Valley, and farmers say their crop should soon begin appearing in retail stores. The harvest began a few days later than average, because cool temperatures slowed the corn in its growth. But farmers say the crop's quality appears excellent. Imperial County is where the first California-grown sweet corn originates each year, and harvest will continue there through the end of May.
The market is growing, and researchers say they see promise for expanded production of two types of Asian fruits. Both lychee and longan have been grown in Southern California for more than a century. Now, researchers are experimenting with techniques that might lead to large-scale production. Most test plots have been in coastal areas, from San Luis Obispo County south to San Diego County. But researchers say the fruit appears to need warmer temperatures than originally thought.Top