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» February 3, 2005 «
An influx of beekeepers from throughout the country may help California farmers partially offset an expected bee shortage. Bees have been in short supply because a pest killed many colonies. That's a serious concern especially for almond farmers, whose crops depend entirely on bees for pollination. Pollination fees have risen, and that has attracted beekeepers from other states who don't usually bring their hives to California.
Having suffered through a severe crop disease two years ago, California wheat farmers are being extra vigilant in searching their fields for any sign of "wheat rust." The fungus that causes the disease thrives in wet weather, and farmers want to make sure that wheat rust didn't establish a foothold during January storms. Farmers have planted two varieties of winter wheat that have proved resistant to the disease, so far.
Ongoing studies offer promise for plant nurseries, which want to make sure their crops don't become infected with the disease known as sudden oak death. The disease has attacked California coastal oaks, and also threatens backyard plants such as azaleas and camellias. Government researchers say they have developed a fast, reliable test to identify the microbe that causes sudden oak death. They are also seeking ways for nursery operators to thwart the spread of the disease.
More information about the research into sudden oak death may be read at www.ars.usda.gov
A "Farm Day Experience" scheduled today (Thursday) will help thousands of schoolchildren learn about where their food originates. More than 3,000 Monterey County third graders will participate in the program, being held in Salinas. They'll see demonstrations about how crops such as broccoli and lettuce get from seed to supermarket. An organizer says he expects displays of farm animals to be the most-popular attraction.Top