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» January 27, 2009 «
California farm dollar losses because of the drought last year are nearly $309 million, according to reports from county agricultural commissioners. The sector with the biggest loss is rangeland, with a loss of nearly $117 million. More than 106,000 acres were either unplanted or abandoned. Fresno County, the state's largest farm products producer, led in losses with nearly $87 million. Without sufficient rain this winter, the 2009 losses are expected to be higher.
Annual pruning work is ahead of schedule in winegrape vineyards across the state. Lack of rain has allowed work to go quickly. Some growers are slowing their workers by not having them work weekends. Later pruning can slow the bud break, which growers hope to achieve this year. Once the vines bloom they are vulnerable to frost, and almost all growing areas of the state have limited water supplies for frost protection this year. The annual pruning contests are scheduled for next month.
Cotton production declined in California last year, according to a government report. Upland cotton decreased about 43 percent to 370,000 bales. Pima cotton production was even lower at about 48 percent below 2007 production. Farmers harvested 415,000 bales. Their yield per acre was 11 percent less than 2007. Growers reduced planted acreage because of water shortages, but have been reducing acreage to plant permanent crops for the past 10 years.
Rain last week helped farmers and ranchers with some moisture for their crops, but did little to ease the drought. The state meteorologists say it looks more like a third dry year. The weather pattern looks like there will be no additional precipitation for California until at least a week from Wednesday. Each day without rain puts the state further to a dry season. The rain pattern was uneven, with areas in the north and south receiving more precipitation than elsewhere.Top