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» October 22, 2007 «
If you visited a California pumpkin patch this weekend, you weren't alone. This is a peak season for "agri-tourism." Pumpkin patches, apple ranches, Christmas tree farms and other locales draw visitors to the countryside during the fall and winter. Tourism has been particularly attractive to farmers with small acreages, who see it as a way to add income. A number of farms have developed educational programs for students, and bed-and-breakfast operations are also becoming more popular.
As they enter the second half of their harvest, California kiwifruit growers report fruit quality as good to excellent, but say they won't sell as much as they did a year ago. The reasons aren't clear, but kiwifruit vines produced less fruit this year, and the size of individual pieces of fruit is smaller. The California Kiwifruit Commission estimates farmers will market the equivalent of around 62 million pounds of kiwifruit, with harvest expected to conclude about mid-November.
To preserve and enhance genetic diversity among crop plants, researchers maintain "gene banks" that store seeds and plant material. The U-S Agriculture Department maintains 20 gene banks, including units in Davis, Parlier and Riverside. The department says scientists at its gene banks have identified previously unknown variations among tomatoes, collected a large pool of wild apple varieties and conducted other research to benefit crops.
A large farm-equipment manufacturer will team with the online marketplace eBay, to make used equipment more readily available on the Internet. John Deere announced that it will provide dealers with the tools needed to upload their used equipment inventories directly to eBay. The company says it expects the expanded online offerings to help customers find the equipment they need and help dealers sell more used equipment.Top