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» August 15, 2006 «
A delayed harvest has started for California's most widely planted orchard crop. A few almond farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley began harvesting, and field inspectors expect the harvest to accelerate to most orchards by next week. That's about two weeks later than average. It will be about three weeks before observers can gauge the yield per acre. But inspectors say the number of almonds on each tree varies greatly from orchard to orchard.
More intense flavor among winegrapes could be one result of the state's July heat wave. The latest government crop estimate says the hot weather delayed grape growth, but that the smaller grapes would add intensity to the flavor. Forecasters expect production to decline for all types of grapes, for wine, raisins and fresh-market use. So far, the heat wave has not changed the expected size of the total grape crop.
With airline passengers now banned from carrying most liquids onto planes, California wineries seek other ways to allow visitors to take wines home with them. Some wineries have started providing shipping containers to tasting-room customers, so they can check wine into planes' cargo holds. Other wineries have reduced shipping costs for customers who buy wine at the winery and want to ship the wine home directly. Thirty-three states now allow direct shipment of wine to consumers.
A tabulation of loss figures from six San Joaquin Valley counties shows that damage from the July heat wave approaches $500 million. Most of the damage came from the loss of dairy cows and other livestock killed by the record-setting high temperatures. Damage to crops exposed to the heat will take longer to evaluate. Officials are seeking federal disaster aid for farmers who suffered losses from the heat wave.Top