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» April 18, 2005 «
Just in time for the state's peak cattle-shipping season, federal authorities have declared California free of bovine tuberculosis. The disease cropped up nearly three years ago in three Central Valley herds. But the state has been free of the disease since, so the U.S. Agriculture Department lifted restrictions on the state (Friday). California ranchers ship large numbers of cattle out of state from May to July, and the ruling means they no longer need special certificates.
In another week or so, Sacramento Valley rice farmers will begin planting their new crop ... and they say recent clear weather has assured that the work will start on schedule. Storms in late March and early April caused concern, as soils were too wet for farmers to prepare fields. But drying has accelerated in recent days and many growers are nearly ready to release water into fields prior to planting. Most rice planting occurs in late April and the first three weeks of May.
Making ethanol out of rice straw, tree trimmings and other "biomass" could become cheaper. A Davis company says it has found a way to greatly reduce the cost of the enzymes needed to create ethanol from agricultural by-products. Right now, almost all commercial ethanol is made from corn. The company, Novozymes, says further barriers remain to biomass ethanol production, but experts say using biomass materials could reduce ethanol-manufacturing costs.
Saying they intend to build on work that farmers are doing now, University of California researchers will launch a program to spread environmentally sound pest management among table grape growers. Known as "biologically integrated farming systems," the techniques include pest monitoring, biological controls and reduced-risk pesticides. The program will concentrate on Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties, the top three in table-grape production.Top