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» February 24, 2005 «
For almond growers, the big question after February rains involves whether bees have been active enough. Almonds depend entirely on bees to pollinate, but bees stay home during cool, rainy or windy weather. A number of farmers hire a monitoring service to help them track bee activity in their orchards. The company says bloom of the main almond variety has been shorter this year, with bee activity comparable to last year's in many regions.
Asparagus harvest in the San Joaquin Delta has started slowly, because rain has made many fields too muddy. A few delta farmers have been able to harvest asparagus this week, because their farms feature soil that dries quickly. Farmers with heavier soil say it is too wet to harvest, and fieldwork to prepare the asparagus beds will have to be redone. Competition from Mexican asparagus has left on-farm prices low as the delta harvest begins.
A case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday (Wednesday) will determine if Central Valley farmers can seek compensation for water they never received. Many farmers who buy water from the federal Central Valley Project have seen supplies shrink, because the water has been set aside for protected fish. A group of two-dozen farmers sued the government, asking to be compensated for the loss. The Supreme Court will decide if the individual farmers have the right to sue.
A naturally occurring compound ... originally developed for medical uses ... has been patented as a new way to fight crop diseases. Federal scientists say the compound, known as sampangine, fights fungal diseases that attack several fruit and ornamental crops. The researchers say the compound controls the fungi that cause gray mold on tomatoes, crown rot in strawberry plants and other crop diseases.
On the Calendar:
The Almond Blossom Festival starts today (Thursday) in Ripon.