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» February 16, 2007 «
One month after a freeze wiped out much of their crop, California citrus farmers say their season is progressing about as they expected. A spokesman for the farmers group California Citrus Mutual says farmers continue to find pockets of high-quality fruit. But the navel-orange season will end early, around April 1st. Some tree damage has become apparent in the weeks since the freeze. Citrus trees in Imperial and Riverside counties appeared to suffer the most.
In anticipation of Sunday's Chinese New Year celebrations, California pistachio marketers say they saw a jump in demand. Pistachio exports to Asia rose 15 percent during December, as buyers stocked up for the holiday. The California Pistachio Commission says people in Asia include pistachios in gift baskets presented at the new year. Gift giving also boosts demand for all varieties of citrus fruit, according to Sunkist Growers.
For beef exporters, frustration continues as they try to sell products to South Korea. The nation reopened its market last year, after closing it due to concerns about the cattle disease BSE. But Korean inspectors continue to reject beef. One California shipper says boxes of beef that had been carefully inspected and even X-rayed in the United States still were not allowed into Korea. Ranchers and shippers have expressed their frustration to U.S. officials.
Even though harvest volumes have been cut by the freeze, farmers and shippers continue to donate fresh produce to food banks. A Salinas-based organization called Ag Against Hunger says it continues to collect and distribute about the same volume of produce as in previous years. But certain crops remain in short supply. For example, donations of broccoli have dropped since the freeze, because overall supplies have been reduced.Top