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» June 1, 2006 «
The law of supply and demand now favors California wheat farmers, many of whom had to sell their crops at a loss last year. In part because of a worldwide drop in wheat production, prices for California-grown wheat have reached a 10-year high. Farmers are being offered as much as $150 a ton, compared to just $90 last year. Because of the previous low prices, farmers have reduced wheat acreage to its smallest in many years.
Tomato growers say a forecast of increased production may turn out to be overly optimistic. A government report issued yesterday (Wednesday) indicates that farmers will plant 10 percent more of the tomatoes used to make ketchup, salsa and other products. But the report notes that rainy spring weather hindered tomato planting, which could affect harvest schedules and amounts. The California Tomato Growers Association says it doubts farmers will be able to plant all the acreage that had been expected.
Mild temperatures in December and January encouraged populations of an orchard pest, and that's causing concerns now for Central Valley nut growers. They report increased trouble from an insect called the leaffooted plant bug. If they detect the bug in time, farmers can control it. But if unchecked, the insects can cause thousands of dollars in damage. The bugs have been found in almond and pistachio orchards from Butte County in the north to Kern County in the south.
It doesn't happen often, but California farmers saw the prices they earn for eggs go up after Easter. Egg prices typically slump after demand peaks at Easter time, but a sharp cut in production during April helped reverse that trend. Farmers had been selling eggs at a loss, but that has turned around. Producers saw egg prices return to profitability last week. On average though, farmers have lost 5 cents a dozen on eggs this year.Top