Food & Farm News
July 10, 2013
Dry grass leaves cattle ranchers in a bind
Sun-scorched pastures are a common sight across California, leaving cattle ranchers concerned about their ability to maintain herds with little or no grass available. The lack of rainfall has led some ranchers to reduce their herds, and in many cases, rely on hay and other supplemental feed for the cattle they have left. Not all areas of the state were starved for rain—in far Northern California, timely rains in May helped sustain native grasses.
Drought brings disaster declarations
The ongoing drought has led to agricultural disaster declarations in at least 21 California counties. When the U.S. agriculture secretary declares a disaster, farmers and ranchers in the affected counties become eligible to apply for low-interest loans to help them overcome losses caused by adverse weather. The most recent counties to be declared disasters include Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, Stanislaus and Tuolumne.
Cotton crop progresses well
Recent hot temperatures have served the California cotton crop well. According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, observers describe about 85 percent of the crop as in “good” or “excellent” condition. Cotton fields have, for the most part, avoided serious problems from pests, in part due to the dry weather. About one-third of cotton fields have progressed to the boll-production stage, advancing toward the harvest that will take place later this summer and into the fall.
Sunflowers bloom in Yolo County
It's difficult to miss sunflower season in Yolo County. The bright flowers are not only beautiful, but one of California's food crops as well. Sunflower seeds are used in snacks and pressed into oils. Seeds not consumed in the U.S. are sold overseas to supplement sunflower crops in Russia and the European Union. Yolo County alone produces more than $19 million dollars' worth of sunflower seeds.