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» May 2, 2005 «
They know that rain and hail damaged crops, but farmers and agricultural officials in the San Joaquin Valley say it will be later this week before the extent of damage can be tallied. Agricultural commissioners in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties say heavy rain and hail hit a wide area last week. Cherry growers may have the most damage, but tree fruits and nuts were also hit, along with some of the cotton crop.
Late-April rains allowed the federal Central Valley Project to allocate more water to farm customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The additional rain and snow prompted the CVP to raise irrigation supplies by 5 percent. Now, San Joaquin Valley farmers who buy water from the CVP stand to receive 75 percent of contract supplies. That's more than the average supplies those farmers have received in recent years.
Rising demand will likely push California cheese production past the 2 billion-pound mark this year. Production reached just shy of that last year, while rising 9 percent. The California Milk Advisory Board says the state's cheese production has doubled in the last decade. At the same time, the cheese market has become more varied. Cheesemakers will produce 260 different varieties this year, compared to only 70 in 1995.
The first California-grown melons of the new season are beginning to reach market. Watermelon harvest has started in the Imperial Valley and cantaloupe production is just getting underway. Cooler-than-average temperatures slowed melon ripening in the desert, but farmers report excellent fruit quality. Imperial County is the state's second-largest producer of cantaloupe and honeydew melons. Most melons now on the market have been imported from Mexico.Top