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» June 15, 2006 «
As harvests accelerate, farmers in several locations report trouble in hiring enough people to harvest their crops. For example, some California strawberry farmers say they've had problems finding enough employees. And a report from Florida indicates that farmers have reduced their citrus-fruit harvests because of worker shortages. Farm groups have been pressing Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that pairs border enforcement with an improved temporary-worker program.
A lingering result of the rainy spring could reduce yields from cling-peach trees to their lowest levels in 20 years. Most cling peaches are used to produce canned fruit. Farmers say their peach trees endured heavy rains during the bloom. Some trees in river bottom regions died, due to standing water. The trees died from root rot, and some peach orchards were reduced by as much as 30 percent.
Later-maturing varieties of California navel oranges have extended the season, and marketers say they expect California-grown navels to be available at least until the 4th of July. Volume of Central Valley navel orange groves remains a little lower than at peak harvest time in winter and spring, but marketers say fruit quality is good. Growers with Valencia oranges have about half the crop they had last year. They're picking at a rate to provide fruit through the summer months.
Harvest of California-grown blueberries will continue for another couple weeks. Farmers say their season is winding down earlier than expected. As with many crops, rain and cool weather at bloom time caused a lighter set of blueberries. Growers say the berries they've been harvesting boast excellent flavor. Even though the weather was less than ideal this year, farmers continue to plant more blueberries in the Central Valley.Top