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» August 24, 2005 «
Thieves continue stealing in rural California. Authorities say fuel has become an attractive commodity because of high prices. Fuel thefts jumped fourfold from 2003 to 2004, in the Central Valley and authorities say thieves are on a pace to match if not exceed last year. In recent days a series of fuel thefts in other rural areas of the state have been reported. Equipment and produce continue to be stolen, but not as often as fuel. Officials urge farmers to make fuel thefts more difficult.
Central Valley grape growers are making decisions now whether to sell their produce for wine or as raisins. A minimum price of $1,210 a ton has been set for raisin grapes. Some wineries have been paying $200 a ton. On average it takes four and a half tons of grapes to make a ton of raisins. It may take a bit more this year due to challenges to the crop during the growing season. Farmers opting to produce raisins will begin placing grapes on drying trays in the next few weeks.
Vineyard land prices have stabilized and increased slightly, according to rural land appraisers. Ground in the Napa Valley easily tops $180,000 an acre. In 1997 land prices there ranged from $30 to $60 thousand. Farmers say those high prices make it difficult for them to buy more land to expand their operations. When developers offer farmers 10 percent or more than what the land value would be producing crops it would be difficult to turn down.
Shorter peach and nectarine trees may soon turn up in California orchards. Scientists have developed the trees that are from 10 to 50 percent shorter than conventional ones. The shorter trees will be easier to prune, thin and harvest. If planted closer together than their larger counterparts they should produce fruit as large as taller trees. The per acre yield should also be the same. Researchers developed new rootstock and have tested trees outdoors before releasing them for farm use.
On the Calendar:
The Butte County Fair and Expo opens today (Wednesday) in Gridley.