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» January 29, 2007 «
Strawberry production after the freeze has increased faster than growers thought it would. The California Strawberry Commission says farmers produced about 1.5 million pounds more berries last week than they did the week before. The commission says that trend should continue if warm, sunny weather prevails. Farmers lost fruit and blossoms to the freeze, but the strawberry plants survived. Even so, the farms hit hardest by frost may take five more weeks to reach full production.
The freeze nipped the tops of celery plants, but farmers in Ventura County say their crop appears to have escaped severe damage. Farms on the Oxnard Plain provide most of the nation's celery at this time of year. Fortunately for celery farmers, temperatures near Oxnard didn't drop as low as in other areas. Farmers removed the frost-damaged tops of the plants ... which are usually trimmed, anyway ... and managed to save most of the celery crop.
Central Coast farmers say they may see a sustained economic impact from the freeze. Coastal counties saw damage to lemons, avocados and a variety of vegetable crops. During a meeting in San Luis Obispo (Friday) with state Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Abel Maldonado, farmers said they fear some crops could be harmed both this year and next. The senator has introduced a bill to provide unemployment insurance relief to workers laid off as a result of the freeze.
It's a double whammy for California cattle ranchers: Dry, cold weather prevents range grasses from growing. At the same time, it has also hurt hay production. The freeze meant farmers lost their first hay cutting in Imperial County, and lack of rain elsewhere has left other hay crops dormant. Cattle ranchers can usually stop feeding hay to their cattle at this time of year. But the grass hasn't grown and some ranchers say they are running short of hay.Top