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» January 5, 2006 «
The season's first snow measurement provided encouraging reports for surveyors who trekked into the Sierra yesterday (Wednesday). The state Department of Water Resources says its measuring team found near-average snow depths at two locations in the Northern Sierra. Snowmelt from that region provides much of the summer water supply for the state's farms and cities. Snow levels in the Central and Southern Sierra are above average for the date.
The New Year's storms brought much-needed moisture to Southern California wheat fields. Farmers who grow wheat without irrigation ... known as "dryland" farming ... say it has been too dry to plant so far. But rains that reached Riverside County brought enough moisture to allow wheat planting to start next week, and farmers say they hope for additional rain soon after. Farmers must plant their wheat by the end of the month in order to harvest a crop in May or June.
Coming off another record production year, California farmers have planted even more strawberries for harvest in 2006. The California Strawberry Commission says farmers sold 1.3 billion pounds of berries last year, up more than 15 percent from the previous season. The planting of additional acreage portends another big harvest. Southern California rains have temporarily slowed the strawberry harvest, but the commission says retail supplies will remain ample.
Apple trees in other parts of the world appear to resist plant diseases that attack American orchards ... and that knowledge may benefit farmers here. Government scientists have been testing wild apple trees from Central Asia. They say some of the wild trees resist two severe fungal diseases that affect apple trees throughout the U.S. Researchers are working to develop trees for American farmers with the disease-resistant characteristics.Top