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» May 10, 2005 «
Vulnerable is the most common word being used to describe California's cherry crop. Rain that has fallen in the growing regions over the past several days has caused damage. When cherries reach the ripening stage rain can cause the fruit to split. That makes it useless. Growers are doing what they can to salvage some of their cherries. Agricultural commissioners say it will be a few days before total damage assessments are complete.
Cattle and sheep ranchers are pleased with the late season rain. Rangeland grasses benefit from the moisture and will provide natural forage for cattle and sheep for a longer time. In addition the rain replenishes water in stock ponds saving ranchers water-hauling trips. After several dry years ranchers are enjoying a break in feeding and watering activity.
Cool weather along with rain is creating problems for processing tomato growers. Plants already in the ground are not growing rapidly as they need heat. Observers say the growing areas are about 200 heat units below average. Cannery operators fear supply problems as tomatoes planted weeks apart ripen at the same time. Farmers, who haven't been able to plant because of wet soil, may opt to plant melons or other crops that mature faster.
Fieldwork in rice growing areas is halted by wet weather. Farm advisors say it may take a week for the heavy soils to dry. Acreage may be reduced as a result. Cotton and melon farmers have problems in addition to planting their crops. Rain causes the soil to cake and the tiny cotton and melon plans can't break through the crust. Growers face the added cost of going over the planted fields a second time to salvage their crops. Diesel fuel for the tractors is much more expensive this year than it has been in the past.Top