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» March 1, 2006 «
Rain this week has improved rangeland for cattle grazing in Central and Southern California. Dry conditions forced some ranchers to haul both feed and water to their animals. The rain varied in amounts, but most ranches received enough moisture to stimulate grass growth. With additional rain in the forecast for later this week, ranchers are relaxing a little as they know their animals should have more food available from revived pastures.
Wheat farmers who have been waiting for rain in Southern California say the recent storms came too late to save their entire crop. Farms in the region depend on rain, rather than irrigation, to nourish their wheat. Extremely warm temperatures in February and a lack of rain dried out about half the crop. However, the "dryland" farmers hope this week's rain may provide enough moisture to germinate seed for later plantings.
Artichoke harvest continues at its early pace. The main growing region around Castroville escaped heavy rain and the plants continue to produce the tasty thistle in abundance. But, marketers suggest that consumers take advantage of the heavy volume while it lasts. The California Artichoke Commission says the peak harvest may taper off as soon as mid-April or around Easter. Usually, the peak spring production continues until mid-May.
Researchers have found that a lack of proper nutrients causes insects such as Mormon crickets to migrate in swarms. When the researchers placed Petri dishes containing diets high in protein and salt, many of the crickets ceased moving to get to the food. Scientists plan to use their findings to develop control measures to keep the insects from destroying crops and garden plants. Swarms of the insects have been measured up to six miles in length.Top