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» March 13, 2009 «
The state's kiwifruit growers are asking for help from President Obama. The California Kiwifruit Commission sent a letter to the president asking him to urge American consumers and retailers to buy California-grown kiwifruit. California farmers produced about 90 percent of the kiwifruit grown in the U.S. last year and are competing with imports from Italy and other countries. About 30 percent of last year's California crop is unsold.
Hay growers are watching the prices they earn decline as dairy farmers reduce expenses in response to lower milk prices. After record-high prices last summer, some hay growers are earning less than their production costs. Analysts say prices may rebound some in the second half of the year. That will depend on whether farm milk prices increase. Meanwhile, horse owners and other hay users are benefitting from lower feed costs.
Honey production increased 35 percent in California last year. The state ranks third in the nation in honey production, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. California beekeepers earned nearly $26 million last year for their honey. There were 360,000 hives based in California in 2008. However, beekeepers from other states increase that number annually to nearly a million for almond pollination season.
Farm advisors are teaching growers how to keep orchard trees alive in drought years when little water is available. Although long-term research is lacking, farmers are getting tips to help trees in the short term. Removing the fruit reduces water stress. Also, early season weed control eliminates competition for water. Farmers whose irrigation water has been limited want to keep their trees alive until adequate irrigation water becomes available.Top