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» February 2, 2011 «
Rangeland grasses have started to grow and stock ponds have filled as a result of early-winter rains, and the improved conditions may encourage California cattle ranchers to expand their herds. Many ranchers reduced their herd numbers in recent drought years, and remain cautious about expanding too soon … in case dry weather resumes. But demand for beef has been high, including export demand that has added to strong cattle prices.
California cheese manufacturers increased their output in 2010, reversing two years of declines. New statistics from the state Department of Food and Agriculture show that California produced nearly 2.2 billion pounds of cheese, up almost 7 percent from the previous year. Mozzarella cheese accounts for nearly 60 percent of the state's production, followed by cheddar and Monterey varieties.
This is the time of year when tomato farmers make planting decisions for the upcoming season. Farmers who grow the processing tomatoes used for ketchup, salsa, soups and other products are proceeding carefully in making their plans. Farmers say water availability, production costs and prices for other crops will all factor into their plans. A crop report says tomato processors will ask farmers to grow about the same number of tomatoes as last year.
Winter wheat crops benefited from December rains, and farmers say additional precipitation would be welcomed now. Farmers in Southern California finished their planting in mid-January, after being slowed by wet ground following December's downpours. Government estimators say California farmers planted 730 thousand acres of wheat this year, up 11 percent from last year, in response to strong prices for the crop.Top