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» April 9, 2008 «
It's shaping up to be another tough year for California pastures and rangelands. Dry weather since early March worries cattle ranchers. Rangeland specialists say in much of the state, grasses are drying and as that happens, their nutritional value declines. Long-range weather forecasts indicate rainfall will stay below average. Ranchers will soon face decisions about whether to sell their cattle or provide supplemental feed.
Nearly perfect weather during the California apricot bloom has marketers forecasting record crop yields. The group Apricot Producers of California says it expects farmers to harvest more fruit per acre than ever before. The group estimates the total crop will be up about 5 percent from last year's harvest. It says consumers should see California-grown apricots in about two months, and that quality will be excellent if the good weather holds until then.
They continue to increase their water efficiency by producing "more crop per drop," and almond growers are learning more about how much water their trees need. University of California farm advisors say limited water supplies in the San Joaquin Valley force farmers there to figure out when to reduce irrigation to their trees. Irrigation specialists say it appears that the period between mid-June and mid-July is the time to reduce water for the least impact on almond yields.
A sudden spread of Sudden Oak Death has shown itself along the North Coast. The pathogen has killed millions of oak and tanoak trees in coastal regions from Monterey County north to Humboldt County. In Sonoma County, experts saw the acreage affected by the infestation increase nearly 40 percent last year. They've encouraged foresters, arborists and landowners to attend training sessions this spring, to discuss strategies for coping with the problem.Top