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» February 10, 2006 «
Warm, late-winter weather influences crops throughout California. Ideal weather for strawberries allowed Southern California farmers to harvest a record amount of fruit in January. Production increased almost 50 percent compared to last January, which was also a record-setting month. Farmers sold more than 40 million pounds of strawberries last month. Some supermarkets will feature special prices on strawberries before Valentine's Day, and consumers should see ample supplies.
Cherry growers say they anticipate an uneven bloom for their crop, because the warm winter has reduced the amount of "chilling" for their orchards. Cherries and other fruit and nut trees benefit from chilly winter weather. The uneven bloom period will likely lead to uneven fruit ripening as well, and could reduce the overall crop size. Cherry trees usually bloom in mid-March, but this year buds are swelling on some trees already and some orchards in Kern County may start blooming next week.
In the state's vineyards, grape growers appreciate the pleasant weather as they prune their vines in preparation for the new season. But the farmers have had to work more quickly, because buds are already starting to swell on some vines. Farmers say they expect a lighter crop this year because of rains last June. That's the time when vines set grape clusters for the following season, and the lack of sunlight caused fewer clusters to form.
Historical weather patterns show this to be a cool, wet period in Northern San Diego County ... but not this year. And that's causing complications for farmers, who have had their irrigation water cut off during an unseasonably warm spell. The water ceased because of planned construction on the area's water supply system. Avocado and nursery growers in the affected region are struggling to save their crops.Top