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» June 6, 2005 «
High hay prices have affected the California wheat crop. Because hay prices have been elevated, dairy farmers and horse owners have sought other feed for their animals. With wheat prices low, farmers have decided to convert half of the Central Valley winter wheat crop to animal feed. In addition, by clearing their wheat fields early, farmers can plant a second crop on those fields. As a result, forecasts say the California wheat crop will be down about 26 percent.
Fresh California apricots will be reaching stores in greater numbers, as harvest of the state's main variety, the Patterson, has begun in earnest. Central Valley farmers report strong demand for apricots, because some competing crops have been in short supply. The apricot crop has also been reduced somewhat, as rain and hail hit early varieties. But farmers say their overall crop should reach average volume levels.
When can a crop be both much larger and much smaller? It sounds like a riddle, but it's no joke to California prune growers. An official crop estimate (released Friday) says the state's prune crop should be more than twice as large as last year's record-low harvest. But the expected crop of 105 thousand tons would still be 40 percent smaller than the recent average. Hot weather during bloom has hit prune orchards the past two years.
Growing evidence about the health benefits of nuts should boost demand for California almonds, according to a government report. The U.S. Agriculture Department says American consumers have been eating more almonds as snacks, or buying them for cooking. Still, more than half the almonds that Americans eat are consumed as ingredients in products such as cereal, granola bars, candy and cookies. California farmers grow virtually all the almonds produced in the U.S.Top