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» March 6, 2008 «
California's dairy landscape continues to shift. An update from the state Department of Food and Agriculture said the number of dairy farms in California dropped by 24 last year, compared to the year before. Most of the losses occurred in Southern California. San Bernardino County saw a net loss of 14 dairies. The report says some farms have relocated within California, whereas others have moved out of state or shut down entirely.
By opening up heads of iceberg lettuce as they grew, researchers have enhanced the crop's nutritional value. Plant breeders at a government research unit in Salinas prevented iceberg lettuce from forming tightly closed heads. Exposing more of the lettuce surface to sunlight allowed it to store much more iron, calcium and vitamin C. Now, the researchers are working to perfect the technique.
Cherry blossoms have opened on early varieties in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Bloom time remains a couple of weeks away in San Joaquin County, where most California-grown cherries originate. The California Cherry Commission says trees received adequate chilling during the winter, and signs point to a good bloom. But a late almond bloom could affect cherry farmers. They use bees to help pollinate cherries but those bees won't be available until the almond bloom ends.
Farmers and ranchers generally live and work in the same place, and that makes workplace safety even more important. State Farm Bureaus throughout the nation emphasize that point this week, through observance of Agricultural Safety Awareness Week. This year's educational efforts focus on children. A California Farm Bureau safety specialist urges farmers to teach their children the same safety techniques they use for themselves and their employees.Top