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» February 23, 2005 «
It's a bad case of déjà vu for strawberry farmers, as storms brought more flooding along the Oxnard Plain. The California Strawberry Commission says some fields that flooded during January storms have flooded again. Farmers have started removing damaged berries from strawberry plants. In San Diego County, rains caused nursery operators to delay plant shipments, but provided free irrigation water for avocado and citrus fruit growers.
The return of sunshine in much of the Central Valley allowed bees to resume their work, of pollinating almond trees. It may be weeks before farmers know whether storms caused serious disruptions to pollination. The rains came at the height of the almond bloom, when trees must be pollinated by bees in order to produce a crop. Muddy fields have slowed tomato planting in the Central Valley, where officials say planting has fallen three weeks behind schedule.
Above-average rain in the California desert has encouraged weeds to grow in farmers' fields. The Imperial Valley, which averages 2 inches of rain per year, has already recorded 3 inches this season. The added moisture causes weeds to spread rapidly. One observer says some melon fields have weeds so tall that growers can't see the melon plants. The rains have also slowed harvest of vegetables including lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.
A pilot project this spring will test the effectiveness of a chemical treatment to kill glassy-winged sharpshooters on nursery plants. The strategy involves a one-time treatment of plants before they're shipped. Officials say that could significantly reduce inspection time and costs. Authorities and nurseries take great care to make sure that sharpshooters don't hitchhike on plants being shipped from infested areas. The insects carry a plant disease that kills grapevines and other crops.
On the Calendar:
Sessions on air and water quality are among the offerings as Western United Dairymen opens its annual convention today (Wednesday) in Fresno.