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» November 3, 2005 «
Severe shortages of farm laborers appear to be looming in the Imperial Valley and nearby Yuma, Arizona ... the region that produces most of the nation's winter lettuce. Farmers say they have been unable to find the help they need to plant and harvest crops. The farmers say the shortage is the worst in memory, and could mean that some crops won't be harvested. They say causes for the problem include competition from other industries and lack of a viable guestworker program for immigrant workers.
A second population of an exotic crop pest has been found in Southern California. The state Department of Food and Agriculture said yesterday (Wednesday) that "diaprepes root weevils" have been found in Long Beach. The exotic pest threatens more than 270 species of plants. It was first found in Newport Beach, and experts don't know if the two infestations are related. The state agency has established quarantines in both cities and is evaluating ways to fight the pest.
Plant diseases that used to be minor problems have been causing more trouble for tomato growers. For example, infestations of diseases known as bacterial canker and spotted-wilt virus have increased in fields of processing tomatoes. In the Fresno area, some fresh market tomato growers reported cosmetic damage that meant that tomatoes could not be sold. University of California researchers are seeking methods to control the diseases.
Harvest got off to a late start in Southern California groves of date palms, but farmers report excellent quality as harvest begins. The first heavy volume of date production occurred in late October, about two weeks later than average. Farmers say the crop appears to be fairly light, for a second straight year. Dates don't all ripen at the same time, so harvest begins on the outside of the grove and works toward the middle.Top