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» March 14, 2006 «
Beekeepers are experiencing difficulty as the rainy weather continues. Some orchards are too wet for needed equipment to move the hives. In rainy weather bees don't forage, and farmers need to provide food for them, usually corn syrup or other sweetener. This is the time of year beekeepers produce queens and during rain and cold there aren't as many drones to mate with the queens. Pollination is about over in almond orchards, but some hives will remain until it's dry enough to move them.
Fresno County lettuce growers are concerned as rain and cold temperatures continue. Farmers had planned to begin harvesting on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley this week, but weather has postponed that. Farmers fear there may be some damage if rain penetrated the heads. Decay inside won't be visible until workers start picking the vegetable. Western Fresno County usually supplies about 90 percent of the nation's head lettuce supply from mid March until May.
Agricultural researchers are investigating use of culinary classics to control a fungal disease that attacks potatoes. Late blight is the disease blamed on the Irish potato famine of the 1840's. Oregano, thyme and lavender show promise as materials that control the blight. If experiments continue to show control it may provide a biologically based approach to control one of the most devastating potato diseases world wide, replacing currently used fungicides.
California sweet potato farmers are expected to plant about the same acreage as last year. The Sweet Potato Council of California says market changes impact prices. Growers find buyers want to negotiate a price at the start of the season and won't pay more even if shortages develop. There are fewer buyers now with the consolidation of grocery chains and development of large so-called box stores. Fewer buyers means they have more control over the price farmers receive.Top