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» December 1, 2006 «
Despite the unseasonable chill affecting much of California, farmers say their crops appear to have escaped serious damage, so far. Temperatures have dipped into the "danger zone" for citrus fruit and other crops. But the mercury hasn't fallen low enough, long enough, to cause much harm. High winds in Southern California did blow some avocados and lemons from trees, but officials say it's too early to tell how much damage occurred.
Cattle ranchers have completed their movement of animals from summer ranges in the mountains to pastures in the foothills and valleys. Autumn rain has caused creeks that were dry in summer to flow, and fields have started to turn green as grasses grow. Still, some cattle ranchers will supplement their animals' feed with hay until more forage grows.
The first estimate of water supplies from the State Water Project promises farm and city customers at least a 60-percent supply in the coming year. Project officials say that's a "good start" for water-supply projections, because most of the rainy season remains ahead. State Water Project customers were able to buy 100 percent of requested amounts last year, after a wet spring swelled reservoirs.
In another couple of years, consumers will begin to see supplies of a new, seedless grape developed by government researchers in California. Known as the Autumn King, the grapes were bred for harvest in late October. Autumn King grapevines became available to farmers last year. The U.S. Agriculture Department estimates more than 100 thousand of the new grapevines have been planted in Central California so far.Top