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» January 27, 2006 «
The almonds buds are starting to swell in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, which is probably indicative of an early to mid-February bloom. One Stanislaus County grower reports that the bud set looks good, so potential for a large crop is a possibility. Almond prices have dropped significantly since the harvest of the 2005 crop because of less-than-expected shipments and a slightly larger-than-anticipated crop. Generally, the only other grower concern is, whether there were enough chilling hours?
Lettuce prices are so far below the cost of production, that several Imperial Valley farmers are discing their crop under. Farm prices are about $4 a box and the production cost is about $6. Growers of asparagus and purple cabbage, on the other hand, are getting good prices for their produce. Cool weather has slowed plant growth, and so far feared labor shortages have not developed.
Saying things have never been better in the U.S. wine market, respected analyst Jon Fredrikson told a packed audience at the annual Unified Wine and Grape Symposium in Sacramento that U.S. wineries shipped about 300 million cases in 2005, a record. Of that amount, California wineries accounted for shipment of nearly 187 million cases, valued at about $25 billion. California produces nearly 90 percent of all U.S. wines.
It looks as if there will be enough bees for almond blossom pollination next month. Attractive prices for beehives have drawn beekeepers from as far away as New York and Australia to the Golden State for pollination. Almond farmers are paying about $150 per hive this year. Beehive strength is better this year as beekeepers attacked any mite infestation early. But, they say the chemicals they've used in the past no longer control the mites and are asking government help in registering new materials for California use.Top