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» May 18, 2006 «
Trying to shake off a two-week delay caused by a cold, wet spring, Salinas Valley farmers have started their spring lettuce harvest. One grower says farmers had planned less lettuce to start with, and the spring weather has caused his fields to produce 10 percent to 15 percent less volume than normal. He says it may take a month or more before shoppers see an abundant supply of lettuce at the market.
In the Sacramento Valley, rice farmers say the clear weather of May has helped them make progress in planting their crop. Typically, about half the state's rice would be planted by now. Farmers remain far behind schedule because of heavy rains earlier in the spring. In the state's number-one rice-growing county, Colusa, a farmer estimates that about a third of the fields in his area have been planted or prepared. He says planting may be completed by early next month.
Driving less saves fuel, and that's as true on the farm as it is on the road. Farmers say they're saving fuel by using new equipment that combines operations in a single tractor trip through a field. For example, some corn growers have invested in equipment that harvests the crop, then shreds and chops the leftover stalks, all in a single pass. That eliminates two or three trips through the field. The new equipment can be pricey, but farmers expect their investments to pay off.
Tax legislation signed by President Bush yesterday (Wednesday) provides family farmers with more flexibility, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The president signed a two-year extension of a cut in capital-gains taxes. The American Farm Bureau says that will help farmers and ranchers who want to expand or change their operations ... and make land more affordable for young people who want to start farming. Most farmers hold their land for decades, making capital gains significant when the land sells.Top