Food & Farm News
» January 18, 2012 «
During this week's very cold nights, orange and mandarin growers in the northern part of the Central Valley citrus belt have used wind machines, irrigation and other techniques to try to prevent damage to their crops. California Citrus Mutual reports that navel oranges now have enough sugar content to help them avoid freezing. But mandarins are more susceptible. On the Central Coast, farmers report scattered freeze damage to artichokes and broccoli.
With almond bloom approaching in a few weeks, California beekeepers are preparing their colonies to help pollinate the blossoms. Because of the dry winter so far, there is less food available to bees, so beekeepers have been giving them supplemental nutrition. That consists of a mixture of sugar syrup and protein feed, plus pollen substitutes. When the bloom starts, it will take 1.5 million bee colonies to pollinate the state's 760,000 acres of almond trees.
Ranchers continue to cope with an age-old challenge: cattle rustlers. The California Department of Food and Agriculture reports that more than 2,000 stray and stolen cattle, valued at nearly $2 million dollars, were returned to their owners last year. The department says investigations in several counties led to arrests, fines and jail time for rustlers. The state employs brand inspectors to ensure that cattle are returned to their rightful owners.
The California grapefruit crop could be down by 20 percent, according to a US Agriculture Department production forecast. The harvest for Oro Blanco and Melogold grapefruit varieties is winding down, and the USDA notes that although weather has been good during the growing season, farmers in Ventura County have been on guard for the Asian citrus psyllid. The invasive insect has been found in two separate areas within the county, and quarantines for the pest have caused concern.