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» February 10, 2010 «
Storms are missing the upper Colorado River basin, resulting in a snowpack that is below average. The Bureau of Reclamation says the snowpack is just 83 percent of average and the projected runoff is 74 percent of average. Storms have dropped precipitation in Southern California and other areas of the lower Colorado River basin. That has caused a decline in irrigation water orders, as a result water in Lake Mead has risen two and a half feet over the last week. Southern California gets about 40 percent of its water from the Colorado River.
Autumn and winter rains have transformed many California pastures. Rangeland grasses and other forage have germinated and started to recover. Many stock ponds have refilled. Some ranchers are even starting to talk about expanding their herds, but most remain cautious. Regular rains will be needed to sustain the rangeland recovery. One rancher said a rainstorm once a week from now through April would be ideal. That would keep grass growing and build up the watershed.
California strawberry production rebounded last week as farmers shipped more than 600,000 10-pound trays to market. The California Strawberry Commission expects production to increase again later this week after rain leaves the growing areas. There should be strawberries available at retail outlets in California for Valentine's Day. Nationwide there may be less fruit available as weather issues have caused problems in Mexican growing regions.
California lost 109 dairy farms in 2009, according to a California Department of Food and Agriculture report. It cites the weakened state of the economy, higher feed costs and low prices paid to producers along with various dairy buyout programs as reasons for farmers going out of business. Merced County lost the most, as 29 dairies in that county folded. Glenn County lost 14 dairies. CDFA keeps track of the number of dairy farms each year.Top