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» September 25, 2008 «
The University of California's Master Gardener Program has completed a study of trees to develop criteria how to judge if the plant is safe. Structurally unsound trees in backyards, parks, streets and parking lots pose a serious hazard. They can crush cars, damage homes and injure people. Researchers say a common misconception is that healthy trees are safe when, in fact, they have documented many cases of healthy trees falling.
An organization called "Free the Grapes" continues its efforts to standardize state rules regarding direct wine shipments to consumers. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2005 ruled that states must treat in-state and out-of-state wineries equally. Each state has different rules regarding shipments, making it difficult for all wineries to comply. "Free the Grapes"--with more than 300,000 members--and others groups such as the Wine Institute are working to simplify shipping regulations.
Farmers throughout the state continue to cope with water shortages. In the San Joaquin Valley growers have fallowed some of their land. Farmers used well water to supplement the loss of canal water, but that increased costs, as they needed to pump the water out of the ground. Expenses increased as the water table fell, requiring more energy to pump it. Luckily, prices farmers earn for most crops were higher, helping offset some of the increased water cost.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have discovered a method to help rice plants fight bacterial leaf blight. The disease has reduced yields in some fields in Asia by as much as 60 percent. Rice growers throughout the world will benefit from the discovery. And consumers can expect a more certain supply of rice, which is the staple food for more than half the world's population. Researchers have been working more than 20 years to develop rice plants that resist disease.Top