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» August 11, 2008 «
As they celebrated victory in one pest battle, officials urged travelers not to sneak food into California after their late-summer vacations. Authorities say travelers can prevent damaging pest infestations, by not bringing fresh fruits and vegetables into California. Government inspectors work to intercept exotic materials at the border. Mediterranean fruit flies, believed to have hitchhiked on Hawaiian fruit, triggered an 11-month quarantine in Solano County that ended Friday.
If you've put off buying new plants for your home landscape, you're not alone. Nursery operators say the spring season was slower than average. They attribute that to higher costs for items like fuel and food. As discretionary dollars shrink, consumers put off some landscape purchases. Shoppers do seem to be looking for sustainable gardening and perennials, including native and drought-tolerant plants. Growers now are preparing for the fall sales season.
Consumers haven't seen the volatile milk prices that farmers have this year. Beginning September 1, farmers will earn an average of a nickel less per gallon, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which sets farm milk prices. This is the second month prices have declined after increases in June and July. Prices for cheese are what drove the decline. The state agency does not set retail milk prices.
The ticket to a cleaner-running bus could come from a field of mustard seed. A few Monterey-Salinas Transit buses will soon be running on diesel fuel made from the seed. It was grown on a 30-acre test field, producing about 68 gallons of oil per acre. The company processing the seeds is suggesting farmers plant other oil-producing crops that produce more oil. One option is jatropha, which can produce as much as 285 gallons of oil per acre on marginal soils with little water.Top