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» August 2, 2007 «
After lagging for months because of the January freeze, California strawberry production is now ahead of last year's pace. The California Strawberry Commission says production through the end of July exceeded last year's record pace by about six and a half million pounds. Whether production continues at a record pace depends on the weather. The commission says the quality of berries coming to market has been excellent.
Irrigation districts in many parts of the San Joaquin Valley are ending water deliveries early, or have already stopped. Lack of rain and snow this year meant some Kings River water users received no irrigation water. Those farmers turned to groundwater supplies to produce their crops. That increases production costs because of the cost of operating the pumps. Water officials say a second dry winter will lead to more severe water problems next season.
Three more California counties have been declared agricultural disasters because of dry weather. The U.S. Agriculture Department issued the declarations yesterday (Wednesday) for San Benito, Santa Clara and Yolo counties. The action allows affected farmers and ranchers to apply for low-interest emergency loans. A government crop report issued this week says more than 70 percent of California range and pasture is in "very poor" condition after the dry winter and spring.
Warm days and cool nights have been just what melon farmers wanted, to assure the quality of their crops. Farmers say they expect shoppers will be able to buy melons of all varieties this season and be assured of sweet and juicy fruit. Temperatures haven't spiked as high in the Central Valley this year, and that has helped melons. Specialty melon growers describe their melons as sweeter than they've been in several years. Watermelon farmers also say quality is excellent.Top