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» January 23, 2009 «
Rain in California is being welcomed by farmers and ranchers. It will save tree farmers from irrigating and will help keep range grasses for livestock alive. Citrus growers will be inconvenienced as the precipitation will disrupt harvest, but it also nourishes the trees. There may be some interruption of fruit and vegetable harvest in Southern California, but growers there also welcome the moisture. Rainfall has already exceeded what forecasters had predicted; however, drought conditions persist.
A Fresno-based agricultural business has been awarded an IPM Innovator award by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. FreshSense uses a global positioning system that monitors pest populations in orchards, thereby minimizing pesticide use. The business is also working with local water agencies to build stone weirs to help filter water runoff from hills before it reaches streams. DPR has been honoring California businesses and organizations since 1994 for their efforts to reduce pesticide use.
Processing tomato farmers say the government report suggesting growers will plant 31,000 additional acres of tomatoes than they did last year is too optimistic. Farmers throughout the Central Valley are reporting problems in obtaining reliable irrigation water supplies. Farmers in the Westlands Water District have already planned reductions in acreage because they cannot rely on surface irrigation water. Court-imposed restrictions along with the drought have reduced surface water availability.
Farmers and ranchers continue to ask Congress to pass meaningful immigration reform. Growers need a legal, reliable work force available to harvest crops when they are ripe. Unlike other businesses, growers have a brief time span during which to harvest top-quality fruits and vegetables. Because of dwindling labor supplies, farmers who can have turned to mechanical harvesting to reduce their labor needs. But machines have not yet been developed for all crops.Top