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» September 13, 2005 «
Loss figures are mounting, as farmers assess damage in the states hit by Hurricane Katrina. Observers say agricultural damage in those states might reach $5 billion. In Louisiana, for example, citrus growers suffered a total loss of this year's crop, and standing saltwater will render the orchards permanently unsuitable for citrus. Dairy and poultry farmers lost buildings and animals. In Mississippi, timber producers have had losses exceeding $1 billion.
Springtime rains that damaged Northern California prune orchards have brought a federal disaster declaration. The announcement yesterday (Monday) makes farmers in seven counties eligible for disaster relief. The unseasonable rain last March caused significant losses in Sutter County prune orchards. Farmers who grow prunes or other crops in neighboring counties will also be eligible for low-interest disaster loans if they show crop losses of 30 percent or more.
By counting and measuring fruit in randomly chosen groves, crop forecasters have determined that California navel-orange growers will have slightly less fruit to sell this season. The forecast, released yesterday, predicts the harvest will be 2 percent smaller than the previous season's crop. Even so, there will be enough navel oranges to fill 84 million cartons ... with each carton weighing 37 pounds.
If you've ever wondered how to choose the perfect melon, the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board has advice for you. The board has posted that advice on its Web page (at www.cmrb.org). It describes how ripe cantaloupes should look, feel and smell. A board spokesman says the site has been well received by Web users. It also describes the best ways to store and serve cantaloupe.
On the Calendar:
The Santa Cruz County Fair celebrates its 110th year as it starts today (Tuesday) in Watsonville.