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» June 10, 2008 «
Prices farmers are paying for fertilizer have tripled in recent years and demand from farmers in nations like China and India have strained supplies. In addition, prices for natural gas, which is used to make some fertilizers, have increased. Production of nitrogen fertilizers in the U.S. has declined 35 percent in the last five years and farmers cannot pass on their increased costs, thus affecting their profit margins. Industry observers expect high prices to continue for the foreseeable future.
With recently announced additional water reductions, California’s cotton acreage is expected to be less than the 280,000 planted. Cotton cooperative Calcot reports an expected minimum 16 percent reduction. Farmers are expected to channel the water they have to permanent crops, or nurture a few of their cotton fields to harvest. At one time, more than a million California acres were planted in cotton. Farmers have been turning fields to other crops for several years.
Although it is six weeks until harvest, California apple growers report their crop is looking good for most varieties. The gala and granny smith varieties are sizing well, and both varieties have a lot of apples on the trees. However, the Fuji variety was hit by poor weather and does not have as good a set. Fuji apples will be available, but some farmers will not have many to sell. The California crop is reportedly in better shape than the Pacific Northwest crop.
Can you imagine a plant calling the farmer to report it needs water? The installation of a newly developed device is enabling this very thing to happen in fields today. Research scientists have developed a system where battery operated infrared thermometers are placed in irrigated fields. A cell phone is hooked to the base station modem, which receives temperature and moisture information and then sends a text message to the farmer’s cell phone, reporting the need for water.Top