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» April 18, 2006 «
With their typical key demand period, Easter, now past, asparagus farmers hope to gear up production in time for another spring holiday: Mother's Day. Spring rains, cold temperatures and muddy fields in the asparagus-growing areas of the San Joaquin Delta cut harvest volumes significantly prior to Easter. Farmers welcome a forecast for dry weather, but say that crop diseases could worsen if temperatures warm too quickly.
Along the Central California coast, artichoke farmers look forward to a stretch of clear weather, to help their harvest recover. Springtime artichoke supplies would typically be reaching a high point now ... but rainy early-spring weather has reduced yields in many fields by as much as half. Farmers fear that standing water in their fields could hurt artichoke plants, which produce crops for as long as 10 years. Fields in Monterey County produce 85 percent of the nation's artichokes.
An exotic pest has turned up in a college greenhouse, and officials are trying to find out how it got there. At least four insects known as passion vine mealybugs were found at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Inspectors found the bugs on a tropical plant in a university greenhouse. The mealybugs could attack grapevines and citrus trees if they became established in California. Authorities have quarantined the Cal Poly greenhouse area.
Work in a New York laboratory may help California grape growers fight an aggressive vineyard pest. Grape geneticists at a U.S. Agriculture Department lab say they've now identified a second gene that allows vines to resist pests called root-knot nematodes. By learning that, scientists say, they may be able to create grapevines that nematodes can't hurt. Researchers want to develop vines that resist the pests and will thrive in California growing areas.Top