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» September 7, 2005 «
Farmers across California report trouble finding enough workers to harvest crops. Some farms have used smaller crews to gather stone fruit and grapes. Raisin growers need large numbers of workers for a fast-moving harvest that has gotten off to a late start. Observers attribute the shortage to a number of factors, including a Canadian guestworker program that has encouraged many Mexican laborers to go farther north to seek work.
Nursery damage from Hurricane Katrina may increase demand for California-grown plants ... but fuel costs partially related to the hurricane could dampen the total impact. Nursery growers in South Florida report $427 million in hurricane damage. Eastern retailers may try to keep their stores stocked by buying plants from California. But growers here say the higher costs to transport California plants may temper the additional demand.
Raisin growers should earn as much as they did last year, for fruit being produced now in San Joaquin Valley vineyards. As uncertainty develops over what wineries will pay for Thompson seedless grapes, more farmers may produce raisins with those grapes, instead. But there could be a limiting factor: Many raisins are laid out to dry on paper trays, and there may not be enough of the trays available to accommodate the additional raisin production.
Farm officials are optimistic about a pilot program dealing with the glassy-winged sharpshooter. After two months, no insects have hatched at two nurseries where some plants have been sent with insect eggs attached. The plants are enclosed, and have been treated with chemicals and biological controls. Additional testing is required before the procedure is adopted statewide. It would be less expensive for nursery growers if adopted.
On the Calendar:
The Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair starts today (Wednesday) in Tulelake.