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» March 31, 2005 «
Backers of an agricultural-immigration bill say they expect to begin their push for its passage next month. The bill, known as AgJOBS, would reform agricultural guest-worker programs, allowing immigrant workers to enter the United States temporarily to harvest crops. The AgJOBS bill has won support from groups representing both farmers and farmworkers, and could be taken up by the U.S. Senate during April.
Coming off of record-low production a year ago, Sacramento Valley prune growers say weather may also affect their 2005 crop. Warm weather in early March encouraged trees to blossom, but then rain hit orchards. That makes trees susceptible to fungal diseases. Farm advisors estimate it will be two weeks before prune growers will know how their crops have been affected. Supplies of dried plums dropped last year after hot weather ruined many prune blossoms.
Avocado farmers are already thinking ahead to next season's crop. Growers say trees have produced the blossoms that will yield the next crop, and that weather has been favorable. That wasn't the case last spring, when heat withered some blossoms. As a result, avocado marketers say this season's crop may fall short of official estimates. Farmers still expect to harvest about 325 million pounds of avocados.
Negotiations have reopened the Mexican border for Imperial County fruits and vegetables. Mexican authorities had imposed restrictions, designed to prevent movement of a pest called the pink hibiscus mealybug. The restrictions ended only about two weeks before the end of the county's winter vegetable season. But the change comes in time for sweet-corn growers, who will start their harvest around the end of April.
On the Calendar:
The Colorado River Country Fair opens today (Thursday) in Blythe.