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» March 5, 2008 «
The quality of California-grown farm products, combined with more favorable currency exchange rates, lead to improved foreign markets for the state's farmers and ranchers. For example, marketers mentioned the exchange rates as a factor leading to record high wine exports. A University of California analyst says the dollar's weaker value, especially compared to the euro, leaves American products less expensive for foreign consumers.
Easter comes early this year, but California artichoke farmers say they'll be ready. The California Artichoke Commission forecasts ample supplies for the holiday, which forms an important sales period. Perennial artichoke plants are producing their spring flush now and the annual varieties are also available. California farms produce virtually all domestically grown artichokes, mainly from fields on the Central Coast.
Above-average rainfall in much of Southern California has benefited ranchers and farmers alike. The rain and warming temperatures have boosted growth of rangeland grasses, allowing ranchers to reduce the amount of supplemental feed they provide to their animals. Southern California farmers who grow wheat without irrigation are tending their crops to eliminate weeds. Most of those farmers couldn't grow wheat last year, because so little rain fell that the seeds wouldn't germinate.
Production of biofuels from rice straw, sugarcane and other "biomass" sources will be the focus of research grants announced by the Bush administration. Officials said yesterday (Tuesday) the government will invest up to $18 million in projects to derive biofuel from non-food sources. One California company will participate in the project. Ceres Incorporated of Thousand Oaks will study prospects for making fuel from switchgrass.Top