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» April 5, 2005 «
Plentiful rainfall in the Colorado River Basin has improved the water outlook for Southern California, but farmers in the state's far north face a very different prospect. Water has begun flowing through Klamath Project canals near the Oregon border, but drought will limit water supplies to the region's farms. On the Colorado, though, two large reservoirs have experienced faster-than-expected recovery from a lengthy drought.
Given current conditions in the rice business, observers say it's unlikely that the end of a water-transfer deal will lead to additional rice plantings. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California decided last week not to exercise options to buy water from Sacramento Valley irrigation districts. Rice farmers had agreed not to plant crops, in order to free water for sale. Farm advisors say low rice prices mean most of the affected land won't be planted in any event.
Tough times in the prune business, followed by a crop disaster last year, prompted many farmers to remove their trees. Marketers aren't sure how many trees remain, in part because state budget cuts eliminated a yearly acreage survey. So a growers group, the Prune Bargaining Association, began a private survey this week to assess the acreage. That will help officials estimate how many prunes might reach market as dried plums this year.
Shoppers may find slightly lower supplies of many vegetable crops compared to last spring, according to a government report. The U.S. Agriculture Department says California farmers have planted less broccoli, iceberg lettuce, cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes and celery than they did a year ago. In some cases, wet and cool weather affected plantings. The state's farmers have planted more carrots and sweet corn for harvest this spring.Top