Food & Farm News
» August 24, 2011 «
Weather problems in the southern Plains and the Midwest will have ripple effects on California farms and ranches. As drought forces ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma and other states to reduce the number of cattle they can care for, people in the California cattle business say they expect markets to become more volatile in coming months. Record heat in the Corn Belt has affected feed prices, and the Midwest weather could also affect markets for California-grown rice.
Although it's running a couple of weeks late, the North Coast winegrape harvest has started. Harvest of grapes for sparkling wines began this week, with other varieties due to be picked starting in mid-September. The North Coast harvest will likely extend into mid- to late October. Statewide, crop forecasters estimate California farmers will harvest 3.4 million tons of winegrapes this season, down 6 percent from a year ago.
It seems strange, but it's true, and it's affecting hay prices paid by dairy farmers and other livestock owners: Right now, it can be cheaper to ship hay from Southern California to Asia than to the Central Valley. A hay shipper in the Imperial Valley says the cost to ship hay to Asia has fallen, as shipping firms try to fill containers that would otherwise be empty. That can make those shipments cheaper than sending hay by truck to dairies in the Central Valley.
New research, technology and management practices provide better habitat for woodland species and improve lumber yields at harvest, according to forestry specialists. As they described modern management work during a Sierra tour, foresters said California must still import most of the wood used in the state. Timber harvests have been reduced by lawsuits and regulations. The California Forestry Association says thinning forests can also reduce wildfire danger.Top