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» November 10, 2006 «
It will be a high-quality but lower-quantity crop for California navel-orange farmers. Growers say they hope a season filled with superior-quality fruit will help them withstand the effects of a much-lighter crop. The impact of two heat waves during the growing season has become evident. Forecasters expect the crop to be nearly 30 percent smaller than last season's. But farmers report their oranges are larger, with exceptional sweetness and juiciness.
It's a constant struggle for farmers, to make sure they have enough of their crops to satisfy demand but not so much as to flood the market. Winegrape farmers have been reducing acreage after large crops forced prices down. There are fewer grapevines in the ground now, and farmers have also adjusted varieties to keep up with consumer trends. Analysts note that California winegrape acreage has dropped only 2 percent from its peak, and that wine imports continue to influence the market.
Nursery operators say pistachio trees are in great demand, as more farmers plant new orchards. The California Pistachio Commission says it expects an additional 40 thousand acres to be in production within five years. Marketers are developing new customers to keep demand increasing. About 30 percent of the crop is sold to foreign markets. Buyers in the European Union, Canada and elsewhere import the top-quality pistachios that California farmers produce.
Recent declines in diesel-fuel and gasoline prices may be leveling off, according to the California Energy Commission. Its latest weekly report says gasoline prices fell an average of 4 cents a gallon and diesel dropped a penny. But the commission says refineries are going off-line for yearly maintenance, and that should lower fuel production in the next few weeks. Inventories remain higher than they were last year at this time.Top