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» May 12, 2008 «
In the three weeks since a spring freeze hit much of Northern California, farmers have seen signs of recovery in some crops … but evidence of severe damage in others. In Sutter and Yuba counties, officials estimate crop losses at nearly $60 million dollars. Losses may rise as damage becomes more visible, in crops such as prunes, walnuts and peaches. North Coast winegrape growers are seeing new growth on frost-damaged vines, and say the new growth may produce half a normal crop.
A few Central Valley blueberry farmers suffered severe losses from the April freeze, but the California Blueberry Association says the overall impact on crop volumes should be small. The blueberry harvest has begun in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Other than the freeze, weather has been ideal and the association says the quality of the fruit is high. Consumers should see California-grown blueberries in retail stores in a very short time.
Cantaloupes, honeydew melons and watermelons from the Imperial Valley should start reaching stores this week. Farmers report excellent quality among the early melons, though they say cool weather earlier in the season slowed the start of harvest a bit. The harvest will continue until July. Shipments of specialty melons such as casabas, Crenshaws and Galas will soon begin, as well.
The price California dairy farmers earn for milk will rise about 12 cents a gallon next month. The state Department of Food and Agriculture announced the farm milk price will average $1.74 a gallon as of June 1st. Rising markets for cheese and butter led to the increase. But even with the change, farmers will be earning 27 cents a gallon less for milk than they did last December. The state sets the farm milk price but does not control retail prices.Top