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» December 15, 2005 «
A popular promotion that provided free music downloads to buyers of fresh fruit will return next year. The California Tree Fruit Agreement says it will bring back the program, which provided shoppers with free iTunes music downloads when they bought peaches, nectarines or plums. The tree fruit agreement says fruit buyers redeemed nearly a quarter-million music-download coupons in the first year. It's among several promotions the organization uses to encourage fruit consumption.
A combination of weather and markets reduced this year's California rice crop. Farmers planted less rice to begin with, in response to lower prices from the previous year. Late rain at planting time further reduced rice acreage. Then at harvest, farmers reported much lower yields. Some reported reductions as high as 20 percent because of adverse weather. Growers are flooding fields now, providing habitat for birds that spend the winter in the Central Valley.
A trade dispute between the United States and Canada could have an indirect impact on California wheat farmers. Tariffs on Canadian wheat entering the U.S. will be lifted early next year, after a ruling that U.S. farmers were not harmed by Canadian imports. Because California farmers grow different wheat varieties than their Canadian counterparts, the ruling won't directly affect farmers here. But if wheat prices soften as a result, the ruling will have an indirect impact.
California strawberry growers may face some additional competition from Eastern farmers. Government scientists say a new method of propagating strawberries for Eastern climates allows plants to bear fruit through December. The researchers say plants covered with plastic tunnels can continue to bear fruit even when light freezes occur. They say farms as far north as the eastern shore of Maryland can produce berries using the technique.Top