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» October 31, 2005 «
As the weather cools and mosquito activity slows, it now appears that California may lose fewer horses to West Nile virus than it did last year. State officials report no horse deaths to the virus the past week. In all, 199 California horses have died from West Nile virus this year. But that's down 12 percent from the same time last year. Veterinarians have urged horse owners to vaccinate their animals against the disease.
An electronic scarecrow appears effective at preventing damage in almond orchards. The unit broadcasts crow distress calls, discouraging the birds from landing in almond trees. Researchers from the University of California, Davis, say the units reduced crop losses to crows in test orchards. The units emit a variety of distress calls, so crows don't become accustomed to the warnings. That's been a drawback with similar systems in the past.
Improved sales of snack nuts boosted the bottom line for Diamond Foods, which issued its first annual report as a publicly held corporation. The report says sales of the company's Emerald-brand snack nuts tripled during the fiscal year, and forecasts continued growth in the coming year. Diamond converted from a grower-owned cooperative in July, and says it signed long-term contracts with most of the farmers who formerly belonged to the co-op.
A few Southern California farmers have learned how to grow mangoes, and market them in early autumn when supplies from Mexico slow down. Because mango trees are vulnerable to cold, most groves have been planted in desert regions where frost is rare. The green-fleshed mango variety grown in California boasts longer shelf life than imported fruit. Farmers sell most of their fruit within California, though about 30 percent is exported to Japan.Top