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» October 18, 2005 «
The slow starting pace for the California cotton harvest worries farmers, who say their crops could be vulnerable to rain damage if not picked in time. A government report issued yesterday (Monday) said only 10 percent of the state's cotton has been harvested. At this time a year ago, nearly a third of the crop had been picked. The cool, wet spring and extreme heat during parts of the summer have reduced expected yields from Central Valley cotton fields.
Production of all California-grown field crops will drop this year, according to estimates issued yesterday by federal-state crop forecasters. The report says the greatest percentage reductions will occur in cotton, rice and wheat. The forecasts say harvests will also decrease for barley, sugar beets, feed corn, hay and beans. In some cases, farmers reduced plantings because of market forces, but weather also reduced the yields of most crops.
Consumers have begun buying more whole grain rice this year, according to a marketing survey. Sales had declined during the past three years, in part because Americans switched to high-protein diets. But rice sales began to rebound after the federal government recommended this year that people consume at least three ounces of whole grain products each day. The survey also suggests that true rice lovers did not leave the category completely.
A mysterious ailment has affected some coastal vineyards this year. The ailment causes early reddening of leaves, slow fruit ripening and other symptoms among winegrapes of the syrah, syrah noir and shiraz varieties. Adjacent vineyards with other grape varieties matured normally. University of California scientists say they don't yet know what causes the problem or how to combat it. Growers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties have reported problems.Top