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» August 22, 2008 «
Diesel prices are trending down, according to the California Energy Commission. While that is good news for farmers preparing to operate their heavy harvest equipment, the price is still more than a dollar a gallon higher than it was last year at this time. Farmers seem resigned to paying the higher cost. Higher commodity prices make the fuel price a little easier to handle. But, there really isn't much they can do to reduce fuel use further. The major concern is that commodity prices may decline.
Sweet potatoes may soon be used to make ethanol. Researchers have found that the sweet potato has more of the compound needed to make ethanol. It is almost as good as sugar cane, which has the highest concentration of the compound. And, it has much more than corn. The biggest disadvantage is higher start-up expenses, as labor costs are higher for both planting and harvesting. The researchers suggest pilot programs be started to produce ethanol from sweet potatoes.
Consumers appear to be nuts about almonds. New food products containing almonds increased by 30 percent from 2006 to 2007, according to the Almond Board of California. Per-capita almond consumption doubled between 1999 and 2007. The new products include items such as almond granola bars and almond cereal. Demand for almonds continues to grow, along with increases in production. The almond board is bullish on the market for almonds.
What's that odd-looking insect in your garden? It might be a California thrips. A university researcher has developed a CD-ROM to identify thrips. These tiny insects, which feed on the sap of plants, are a problem on farms as well as urban landscapes. Using the new program, anyone can learn the identity of the insect and how to control it. The program displays 207 species of thrips, including 12 that are potential invaders.Top