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» March 18, 2005 «
Severe drought in the Pacific Northwest may affect California apple growers. Farmers in Washington, the nation's top apple-growing state, could see production drop significantly. Water shortages may require Washington farmers to give their trees only enough water to keep them alive. In California, farmers say trees have bloomed and they hope for a good crop. They expect plenty of Washington apples to remain on the market, coming from fruit stored after last year's record harvest.
Predictions of weekend rain bring concerns for California pear farmers. Pear trees remain in bloom in some growing areas. Orchards along the Sacramento River have mostly passed the bloom stage, but trees in Lake and Mendocino counties are not as far along. Pear growers say the storms will cause fewer problems if the rain is gentle and there is no hail. However, they may have to take added steps to control potential fungal infections of the fruit and trees.
Glassy-winged sharpshooter egg clusters have been found on five different plant shipments in Sonoma and Napa counties, according to agricultural inspectors. The discoveries raise concern because not a single egg was found last year. The insect spreads Pierce's disease, which kills grapevines and other plants. The bug has infested a number of Southern California counties, but thus far has been kept out of the main grape-growing counties in the north.
Farm groups welcomed President Bush's nominee to be the new U.S. trade representative. The president nominated Ohio Congressman Rob Portman yesterday (Thursday). Portman has represented an urban area, but an American Farm Bureau spokesman says he has supported improved agricultural trade opportunities while serving in Congress. The University of California estimates 20 percent of the state's farm goods are sold to foreign customers.
On the Calendar:
Wineries around Paso Robles host their annual Zinfandel Festival beginning today (Friday). The California Citrus State Historic Park in Riverside celebrates Orange Day tomorrow (Saturday).