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» April 13, 2006 «
Rainy spring weather will affect production of California's most widely grown field crop ... and that could have a big impact on dairy farmers and other livestock owners. Hay growers say they expect reduced yields because of all the rain. From the Central Valley floor to the Sierra high country, farmers report standing water in hay fields that can damage plant roots. The extent of the damage isn't yet known, but farmers say the nutrient content of the hay will likely be affected.
Unstable weather in Southern California could affect next season's avocado crop. Avocado trees are in bloom now, even as farmers harvest the current crop. Cool, rainy spring weather has extended the avocado bloom, making farmers uncertain about the prospects for next season. Long-time growers say they can't recall a bloom with weather as uneven as this year's. California farms produce more than 90 percent of domestically grown avocados.
A consumer preference for lean lamb drove the market for farmers during this year's key marketing period. Lamb will be readily available for Easter, with many stores offering special prices before the holiday. Because Easter falls later than usual this year, some lambs grew to heavier weights before being marketed. That affected demand, because of the preference for lean animals. California ranks second in the nation in lamb production, behind Texas.
By carefully managing the water in their orchards, walnut farmers can produce larger numbers of top-quality nuts. A University of California project conducted over several years studied irrigation of commercial orchards. Trees that suffered stress from too little water produced up to 40 percent fewer walnuts. This year, there may be the opposite problem: Farmers may have difficulty limiting the amount of water their orchards receive from precipitation.Top