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» August 24, 2006 «
Growing foreign demand for key California crops such as fruits, vegetables and nuts will help the United States set records for farm exports this year. The U.S. Agriculture Department predicted yesterday (Wednesday) that the nation's farm exports will reach an all-time high of $68 billion in the current fiscal year, and will rise again next year. California leads the nation in farm exports. The state's top export products include almonds, wine and cotton.
They've learned that it's possible to grow sugar cane in the Imperial Valley, and backers continue to work on building an ethanol plant to use the cane. The experimental sugar-cane crop covers 88 acres, and backers have a business plan in place for the proposed ethanol plant. Now, they're seeking money to build it. Once completed, they say, the plant would provide 100 full-time jobs in a county with high unemployment.
Tomatoes in different shapes, colors and sizes have become increasingly popular with both consumers and farmers. Known as heirloom tomatoes, the fruit features different flavors and textures, as well. Although no statistics are collected on production of heirloom varieties, farmers are devoting more acreage to them throughout the state's tomato-growing regions. California ranks second in the nation, behind Florida, in production of fresh tomatoes.
As the winegrape harvest accelerates around California, so will special events and festivals tied to the harvest. Many of the events have been scheduled next month, which was proclaimed California Wine Month by Governor Schwarzenegger. To promote harvest-related events, the Wine Institute announced yesterday that it's organized them onto a calendar at a special Web site (at www.californiawinemonth.com).Top