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» December 24, 2008 «
Recent rains in Southern California encourage winter-wheat farmers who grow their crops without irrigation. Farmers have started planting the "dryland" wheat for 2009. Last year's dry weather proved a disaster for those farmers, who only received insurance payments and no crop. But, with more rain predicted, growers say they're optimistic that this will be a better year. Wheat planting in Southern California usually continues through January with harvest in May or June.
Tree farmers are pleased that the number of chill hours this year have exceeded last year at this time. A chill hour is recorded when the temperature dips below 45 degrees. Peach trees need about 800 chill hours to set a good crop for the coming season, and most orchards are halfway there. Hours needed vary from about 600 for almonds to nearly 1,200 for cherries and apples.
Commercial production could soon begin on a new method to control the pink hibiscus mealybug. The pest threatens a wide range of plants and reached California in 1999. State inspectors imported a parasitic moth that is a natural enemy of the pest. They were successful in containing the mealybug to urban areas of Imperial County. Now, researchers have licensed production of an attractant to help trap and eradicate the pests.
If you give or get flowers for the holidays, you're in good company. Christmas is the year's third most popular flower-giving occasion, following Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. Flower growers say it's easy to prolong the freshness of flowers. One tip is to cut perhaps a half-inch off the stem, at an angle, before putting the flowers in a vase. That allows the flowers to absorb the water more easily. California is the nation's top producer of flowers and foliage.Top