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» May 23, 2006 «
Helicopters have been hovering over cherry orchards in parts of Central California, as farmers take unusual precautions in the wake of weekend rain. The helicopters create a breeze in the orchard that helps to dry the fruit. Most of the cherries remain a couple of weeks from being ripe. Cool, breezy weather that followed the storms left growers optimistic that their crops can avoid severe damage. But it will be a few days before farmers can assess the rain's impact.
Comprehensive immigration-reform legislation remains on track in the U.S. Senate. On Monday, senators defeated an amendment dealing with wages for agricultural workers. Western farm groups expressed satisfaction in the vote, in which the Senate defeated an amendment proposed by Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. The California Farm Bureau says the amendment would have redefined a term known as the "prevailing wage" in a way that would have left Western farmers at a disadvantage.
California-based researchers say they have developed a rapid test to identify seven livestock diseases. The test will help veterinarians protect livestock by determining quickly if an animal might have foot-and-mouth disease or any of a half-dozen other ailments. Scientists at the University of California and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory worked with government researchers to create the test, which will be demonstrated at UC Davis this week.
First, farmers planted less winter wheat. Then, poor weather reduced production in the fields that were planted. As a result, California's winter wheat production could fall by nearly 40 percent this year. A government projection says the state's farmers will harvest about 396 thousand tons of winter wheat. Harvest of the variety known as durum wheat has begun in the Imperial Valley. Forecasters also expect production of durum wheat to lessen.Top