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» March 30, 2011 «
A return of sunshine and warmer temperatures this week has stimulated growth of asparagus. Harvest is beginning in California's top production area, the San Joaquin Delta region. Rain earlier this month had slowed the start of harvest, though the moisture benefited the crop overall. Farmers say they expect the 2011 asparagus crop to be about the same size as last year's, slightly more than 40 million pounds.
In another month or so, apricot farmers will have a much better idea about how their trees came through the rainy March weather. Many apricot trees were in bloom during the storms and could be affected by that. Apricot harvest typically starts in May. In apple orchards, the bloom begins this week amid predictions of warm, dry weather. Clear skies should encourage bees to pollinate the trees. Both apricots and apples grow mainly in the Central Valley.
Rangeland and pastures in California continue to improve as a result of heavy spring rans. A new crop report says pastures in the Central Valley and foothills are in either very good or excellent condition. With more grass available, many ranchers feed less hay or other supplemental feed to their livestock and, the report says, the "flourishing vegetation" has helped cattle gain weight.
Additional water from the federal Central Valley Project should allow farmers in its service area to expand their crop plantings. The CVP said this week that March storms will allow it to deliver 65 percent of contract water supplies to farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A spokeswoman for the Westlands Water District in Fresno says farmers are beginning to plant crops and may now expand their acreage somewhat.Top