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» August 7, 2007 «
The impact of this year's dry weather may echo through California cattle ranches for years to come. Rangeland grasses have withered from lack of rain, and the California Cattlemen's Association says many ranchers have chosen to sell off their calves and breeding stock, in order to sustain their ranches. The association says ranchers may find aid through a farm-disaster bill passed earlier this year and through low-interest emergency loans.
A guessing game about water supply will affect plans for many California farmers, and garlic growers provide one example. Farmers are now negotiating contracts with buyers for the 2008 garlic crop, which will be planted next month. But in Fresno County, where most of the state's garlic grows, farmers don't know how much water will be available to try to grow a crop, especially if there's a second straight dry winter.
Cool nights have benefited California-grown Gala apples. The California Apple Commission says Galas from the state have started to reach market and says the quality is excellent. The cool nights allowed the apples to develop good color as well as taste. Overhead sprinklers also helped keep orchards cooler. The commission reports strong demand for Gala apples, including from foreign buyers in Canada, Mexico and Central American nations.
Volatile natural-gas prices have led to sharp increases in the prices farmers pay for fertilizer. A U.S. Agriculture Department report issued yesterday (Monday) says on-farm prices for ammonia fertilizer more-than-doubled between 2000 and 2005. Natural gas is a key ingredient in production of ammonia. The report says prices have risen in part because U.S. ammonia production has dropped 44 percent.Top