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» January 19, 2005 «
With bees expected to be in short supply this spring, crop pollination fees have increased. That, in turn, has brought two results. There have been at least two thefts of California bee colonies reported, as rustlers try to cash in on the higher fees. And, a University of California specialist says more out-of-state beekeepers will bring colonies into the state this spring. A parasite has weakened many bee colonies, leading to concerns about potential shortages.
A dry week has given Southern California agricultural officials more opportunity to assess damage from this month's floods and storms. So far, most agricultural damage appears to have occurred in Ventura County, which has reported losses of nearly $38 million. In San Bernardino County, agricultural inspectors say dairy farmers have reported $2 million in lost milk production. Other counties may issue damage estimates later.
Remember the tomato shortage? It has ended and, as a matter of fact, farmers say supplies have more than caught up with demand. Tomato supplies dwindled last year, after weather problems cut production in Florida, California and elsewhere. But supplies have now returned to normal in Florida, and farmers there have been selling tomatoes below cost. Analysts say demand hasn't yet rebounded from restaurants, perhaps because buyers think a shortage still exists.
They need to be sure they're meeting the needs of California grape growers, and officials overseeing pest and disease control say they hope a new video will help with that. The video outlines steps taken to control a fatal grapevine malady called Pierce's disease and an insect that carries it, the glassy-winged sharpshooter. State officials will make the video available to growers groups, as part of their effort to solicit advice and concerns from affected growers.
On the Calendar:
The 25th annual Ecological Farming Conference begins today (Wednesday) in Pacific Grove. Customers of the Central Valley Project water system convene their annual conference in Rohnert Park.