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» October 14, 2009 «
All harvest operations in California have been halted by rain. There remains considerable acreage of rice, cotton and processing tomatoes in fields. Rice can be damaged by wind and rain, and harvest cannot resume until fields dry. Likewise, cotton can be damaged, but the extent won't be known until fields dry. Only a small percentage of the processing tomato crop remained in the fields. That may also have been damaged by wind and rain.
Wine and table grape growers statewide had crews harvesting as fast as they could before the rain started this week. Some had crews installing plastic tarp over the grapevines to protect fruit not yet ripe. Farmers know that rain in the amount that fell this week can cause significant damage, but favorable weather after the storm can mitigate losses. Forecasts indicate mild dry weather once the storm ends, and that should minimize damage.
Brush clearing around a Ventura County farm saved crops from a severe wildfire that hit the Moorpark area late last month. Farmer David Schwabauer had removed brush more than 200 feet around the boundaries of his avocado and lemon groves. That helped him and his crews limit losses from the fire. Only one avocado tree suffered minor damage. The fire was the third to threaten the farm in the last five years.
Dairy farmers continue to lose money on every gallon of milk they sell, but two trends have combined to moderate the losses. Government estimates indicate the cost to produce milk has declined, because dairy farmers can buy hay energy and other supplies for less. And the California Department of Food and Agriculture says the price farmers earn for milk will increase the equivalent of 12 cents a gallon on November 1. Dairy farmers borrow on the equity in their farms to stay in business.Top