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Audio ActualityBeneficial insects being used to protect crops
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» September 19, 2008 «
Wild rice harvest in California is about 75 percent completed. Farmers in the northern part of the state are still harvesting. Yields are reported as good, with a few growers reporting better than average. An August windstorm caused lodging, which means the grain was bent over, making it more difficult to harvest and reducing the yield. Demand remains strong especially from the European Union. Harvest should be finished by the end of the month.
Farmers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have been using beneficial insects since 1928 to protect their crops from harmful insects. That's when the cooperative Associates Insectary was formed. The beneficials they raise are part of integrated pest management, which farmers use for crop protection. Because of the climate, the co-op is able to produce beneficial insects throughout the year. The co-op also sells its surplus production to homeowners and others.
Lettuce and peaches are just two of the crops that will benefit from more than $9 million in research grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nearly $800,000 has been awarded to researchers at the University of California, Davis. One project will develop methods to breed lettuce that is resistant to downy mildew and other diseases. Another will look at developing peach trees that produce fruit without disease problems. The projects will be done at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center and at the Genome Center on the UC Davis campus.
Child nutrition and other domestic food-assistance programs will be receiving 3.6-million pounds of fresh tomatoes. The federal government announced the purchase using funds provided by the farm bill. The tomatoes will by used by the nation's school lunch program as well as nutrition programs for the elderly and others. The move may also help stabilize prices farmers earn for fresh market tomatoes, which have been low in recent weeks.Top