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» July 13, 2005 «
The first forecast of California grape production indicates farmers will produce larger crops this season. Government forecasters estimate the state's total grape production will rise 11 percent, and say they expect larger crops of winegrapes, raisin grapes and table grapes alike. A crop report issued yesterday (Tuesday) says cool, wet spring weather caused problems for raisin-grape growers, but that production is still expected to rise.
Triple-digit heat has walnut farmers watching their orchards for signs of sunburn among their crops. Farmers say they expect to lose a few walnuts to sunburn, but as long as nights remain cool, damage should remain at a minimum. Some growers apply a whitewash-like material to protect walnuts from the sun. Growers battled various fungal diseases in orchards earlier this spring, but say they expect a good year for walnut production.
At one time, California apricot farmers looked forward to a record crop. Then came rain, hail and cool spring weather … and a final estimate shows the state's apricot production will be down 10 percent from last year. California produces most American-grown apricots, but farmers in other states also faced production challenges. Frost and poor weather reduced apricot crops in Washington and Utah.
The "shakedown" phase is underway at a new ethanol plant in the San Joaquin Valley. Workers are checking equipment and plan to be producing ethanol by September 1st. The plant is located in Goshen and will employ about 20 people. Once in production it will manufacture about 30 million gallons of ethanol each year. At the start, the fuel will be produced exclusively from corn.
On the Calendar:
It's Opening Day today (Wednesday) for the Santa Barbara County Fair in Santa Maria.