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» May 20, 2005 «
Soaring steel costs mean farmers now see higher sticker prices for farm equipment. Prices for some grades of steel have risen as much as 250 percent. Analysts say the impact is most evident for small companies that manufacture equipment specially designed for California fruit, vegetable and nut crops. Equipment dealers say the price hikes have affected sales.
Record-setting strawberry production continues even as some California farmers lose fruit to rain damage. As of mid-May, farmers had produced nearly 600 million pounds of strawberries so far this season. The California Strawberry Commission says that's up about 12 percent, compared to the same time last year. Southern California growers have not been hampered by rain. Farmers in that region have been picking all the berries they can to meet strong demand.
With about two weeks remaining in their season, asparagus growers in the San Joaquin Delta say they've had an encouraging year. Wholesale asparagus prices have been strong throughout the season. Cool temperatures have slowed production volume, but marketers say asparagus quality has been excellent. Rain has not been heavy enough in growing areas to create damage, but has helped keep soil loose so asparagus spears could easily poke through.
Timber harvests in California increased slightly more than 2 percent last year, according to a report from the California Forest Products Commission. But the report says the state still imports more than 70 percent of the wood products consumed here. Two decades ago, California imported only 25 percent of the wood used. The commission says increasing and overlapping regulations have hurt California's ability to compete in a global timber market.Top