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» April 7, 2010 «
Most wine exporters express optimism that sales will improve as the world economic recession eases, according to a new report from the U.S. Agriculture Department. Growth in world wine trade has stalled for the past two years. The report says many consumers around the world switched to lower-priced wines in response to the economic worries. Sales of U.S. wine to the two largest export markets, Europe and Canada, remained steady but sales to many smaller markets dropped.
In another sign of a slow economic recovery, California timber farmers say demand for wood is increasing and the prices they earn have risen a little from last year. Logging season will begin once the forests dry out from winter rains. One Northern California grower says demand has picked up for both redwood and Douglas fir … though he notes that the timber economy remains in what he calls "a pretty deep hole."
Rice farmers in California plan to seed about 600,000 acres of land this spring, according to a report of farmers' planting intentions. That would be up 7 percent from last year. Improved water availability plays a role in the acreage increase, as does the market outlook. California ranks second in the nation in rice production, behind Arkansas. Most California-grown rice comes from Sacramento Valley counties including Colusa, Butte, Sutter and Glenn.
California's most widely grown orchard crop, almonds, depend on bees for pollination … and that's been a worry for farmers as bees suffer from "colony collapse disorder" and other problems. But plant breeders report progress in developing almond trees that don't depend on bees or other insects for pollination. Researchers working in the San Joaquin Valley say that, using a Spanish variety as one parent, they are able to breed almond trees that produce high-quality nuts without pollination. Their experiments continue.Top