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» July 10, 2006 «
In coming weeks, California olive farmers will be assessing whether their trees hold enough fruit to justify harvesting. A farmers' group, the Olive Growers Council in Visalia, says many of the state's groves carry extremely light crops. The problem stems from the weather. Warm January temperatures stimulated the trees, which then dropped blossoms when it turned cold in February ... and lost more blossoms to spring rains. The first government estimate of the state's olive crop is due next week.
As summer temperatures rise, so does the fire risk in rural areas. Fires that scorch hay or wheat fields not only ruin crops, but also threaten injury to rural residents and fire fighters. Experts say farmers can lessen the summer fire risk by creating firebreaks between fields and roads or buildings ... by staying on top of equipment maintenance ... and establishing an emergency water supply that's available to firefighters.
Demand for organic food products has stimulated farmers to switch more acreage into organic production. California's largest certifier of organic farms says the amount of acreage it certifies grew 27 percent last year. The largest percentage increases came in acreage of pastureland, seed crops, grapes, berries and tomatoes. Organic farmers say they foresee steady growth in consumer demand.
More consumers buy smaller, "personal-sized" watermelons ... and University of California farm advisors are working to help farmers find the best combination of varieties and growing methods. In growing the miniature melons, farmers must find those with the optimal amount of sweetness. They must also pay attention to the thickness of the rind. If the rind is too thick, shoppers won't want to buy the melons. But if the rind is too thin, the fruit can bruise during packing.Top