Food & Farm News
» February 21, 2005 «
A week of frequent rains has brought concerns for farmers of California's most widely grown tree crop. Almond trees are blooming in the Central Valley, and rain during the bloom can affect the harvest this summer. Farmers say occasional heavy rains have knocked blossoms off of trees. The rain can also leave trees vulnerable to fungal diseases. But farmers say their greatest concern is that rain and cool weather may discourage bees from pollinating almond trees.
A plant virus has turned up in North America for the first time, and has affected some California-grown strawberries. In announcing the discovery (Friday), researchers said the disease ... called "strawberry latent ringspot virus" ... can dramatically decrease yields. The virus is carried by tiny, soil-borne worms known as nematodes. Its discovery comes at a time when a popular fumigant used to kill nematodes is being phased out of use.
A cooperative effort among farmers has achieved faster-than-expected results, in reducing silt runoff from Imperial Valley fields. Observers say unofficial monitoring shows that silt runoff into the Alamo and New rivers has already dropped more than 35 percent. A farmer and consultant to the Imperial County Farm Bureau water-quality program says he experimented on his own farm, to develop techniques to reduce the silt.
A label now appearing on some California-grown asparagus reflects farmers' efforts to keep pace with lower-cost competitors. Some Imperial Valley asparagus farmers now send their crops across the border to Mexico for packing, in order to take advantage of lower costs. Consumers may notice asparagus with labels reading, "Grown in California; packed in Mexico." Fresh asparagus is picked by hand, but farmers have also been studying mechanical harvesting of the crop.Top