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» January 12, 2011 «
Thousands of beehives are being trucked into California as preparations continue for almond bloom pollination. The trees need bees to pollinate the blossoms, which then develop into nuts. Almond blooms typically develop during the first week or two of February, although warm air temperatures can prompt an earlier bloom. Because almond acreage continues to expand in California, more than half of the nation's 2-million-plus beehives are now needed to ensure adequate almond pollination.
A new mandarin variety will appear in produce aisles this month, as farmers harvest the first commercial crop. The fruit—called Tango—has a deep orange color and tangy-sweet flavor. It will be sold under the Tango name in some stores and farmers markets, but it also might be sold under other names. UC Riverside scientists say they bred a seedless trait into the Tango so that bees pollinating other trees would not cause a seed to develop in the new mandarin. Tango trees should soon be available to home gardeners.
Nursery operators report farmer demand for pistachio trees is especially strong this season. Growers are making planting decisions now. Pistachio prices have been good and the trees tolerate water laden with salt and other minerals, which is coming into greater use in the San Joaquin Valley as a result of canal water restrictions. Demand for almond and walnut trees is also good, and farmers have placed strong orders for cherry trees and winegrapes.
U.S. Customs inspectors report finding khapra beetles at Los Angeles International Airport. There were adults and larvae in a shipment of Indian rice from Saudi Arabia, and they were discovered during an inspection. The khapra beetle is one of the world's most destructive pests of grain products. Infestations are difficult to control because the beetle can live for long periods of time and survive on many different foods.Top