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» July 5, 2006 «
Vegetable production in the Salinas Valley has come roaring back after a slow start. Strong production from the nation's top vegetable-growing region has pushed farm prices downward. Lettuce farmers in the Salinas region have been selling their crop for the equivalent of just 21 cents a head on the open market. Wet conditions slowed planting this spring, but nearly ideal weather since then has produced a bountiful harvest of high quality vegetables.
Hay remains in tight supply, because of lingering production problems related to the cool, wet spring. In the Central Valley, fields that were damaged by high water have recovered somewhat. But hay production in mountain regions hasn't come back. Some mountain farmers saw more losses last week after rain showers damaged hay that was cut for baling. Fields there that must be replanted will take about two years to return to production.
Concerns about hay prices have led to a shift in California field-corn production. Farmers have switched to use more of their corn for silage. That's corn that's chopped and packed in silos, for use mainly to feed dairy cows. As a result, the state's acreage of corn for grain ... the corn used mainly for poultry and livestock feed ... has dropped to its lowest level since 1954.
They've been battling a tiny but damaging pest for a decade, and now blackberry farmers along the Central Coast may have found an answer. It's vegetable oil. A University of California farm advisor has been experimenting with different mixtures of vegetable oil and water, and spraying them on blackberry bushes. Farmers need a way to control the red berry mite, which reduces production and makes berries taste sour. Tests show the oil-and-water mixture appears to control the pest.Top