Food & Farm News
Audio ActualityHow water shortages affect farmers in the western San Joaquin Valley
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» June 2, 2008 «
The combination of dry weather and court rulings to benefit protected fish species means a short water season for farmers in the western San Joaquin Valley. Operators of the region's main water system will discuss their plans for handling the shortages at a congressional briefing scheduled today (Monday) in Los Banos. The federal Central Valley Project has told its farm customers to expect only 45 percent of contract water supplies.
The tomatoes that will eventually be included in your salsa, ketchup and spaghetti sauce are growing now in Central California fields. A new crop report says processors have signed contracts with farmers to grow nearly 12 million tons of processing tomatoes. That total would be down slightly from the previous crop. The report says the new crop appears to be about a week behind schedule, and that frost in mid-April caused "spotty" damage among processing tomatoes.
Exports remain a bright spot in the nation's farm economy. The U.S. Agriculture Department estimated (Friday) that farm exports will reach a record of more than $108 billion dollars this year. That's up from the department's previous projection. Much of the increase has come in grains and meats, but the estimate also shows sales growth for fruit, vegetable and nut crops. Many of those come from California. The U.S. could have a $30 billion-dollar surplus in farm trade.
Temperatures in the Central Valley have returned to more-typical levels, but the mid-May heat wave appears to have done some good for the region's wheat crop. Farm advisors say the extreme heat ended the spread of a crop disease called wheat stripe rust. The heat also hastened the crop's maturity. Central Valley farmers have started harvesting wheat, and growers in the Tulelake area are planting their spring wheat crop. Planting in that region near the Oregon border is nearly finished.Top