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» May 5, 2005 «
With more rain predicted in the San Joaquin Valley today (Thursday), farmers and county officials continue to assess damage from rain and hailstorms last week. Agricultural commissioners say cherry farmers suffered the worst crop losses. In Kings County alone, cherries suffered damage estimated at $672,000. Kern County farmers say blueberries have also been harmed. Observers say they're also assessing possible losses to wheat and cotton crops.
Along the North Coast, May rains worry farmers who grow apples, pears and grapes. Rain and hail last week caused damage to apples and pears in Lake and Mendocino counties, though officials say the damage may not be visible for some time. Winegrape varieties bloom at different times, so rain this week could affect those crops in the long term. Spring rain pleases livestock ranchers, because it keeps range grasses growing.
It's election season for grape growers, who will vote on plans to pay for pest research. Two separate votes will determine if farmers will assess themselves, to fight vineyard pests such as the glassy-winged sharpshooter and a plant disease it carries. Kern County table grape growers will soon receive ballots, asking it they want to establish a special assessment district. And winegrape growers throughout the state will vote in mid-May on whether to continue their assessment.
Homeowners may soon have access to the same material used by farmers to fight a severe olive pest. The olive fruit fly has infested both residential and commercial trees throughout the state. Farmers may use an organic material known as Spinosad to control the olive fruit fly. Olive growers hope residential consumers will gain access to the material, to control a fruit fly population that has gone virtually unchecked.
On the Calendar:
The oldest fair in California, the Dixon May Fair, opens its 130th annual run today (Thursday) in Dixon and the Sacramento County Fair begins in Sacramento.