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» February 1, 2007 «
The impact of the January freeze will affect California nursery-crop producers for weeks to come. The freeze killed plants being grown outdoors, and delayed development of the plants that survived. That means some plants that were being grown for the Valentine's Day market won't be ready for sale until closer to Easter. The freeze also discouraged people from buying plants during the cold snap, hurting impulse sales at retail stores.
The heavy snows that have blanketed Colorado and other Plains states don't necessarily translate into a robust water outlook for the Colorado River. Water officials say most of the heavy snow has fallen east of the Continental Divide, which means it won't feed into the Colorado. Even so, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Basin says runoff into the river could reach about 96 percent of average. The Colorado provides water for farms and cities in Southern California.
Lack of rain has prevented winter wheat from sprouting in Southern California. Farmers in areas such as Riverside and San Bernardino counties plant wheat on land without irrigation, and hope for rain to nourish the crop. Because of the dry winter, fewer farmers have planted "dryland" wheat. Those who have say the seed hasn't germinated, and they fear that crop insurance may be their only payment. That will provide enough to reimburse them for their planting costs.
California farmers produced more than 11 million tons of fresh vegetables last year, according to updated government figures. That's nearly half of all fresh vegetables produced in the United States. Vegetable crops that showed production increases last year include carrots, onions, peppers and tomatoes. Lettuce, artichokes and asparagus were among the crops with production decreases. The state's overall vegetable production declined about 3 percent.Top