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January farm update

by Chris Hinyub, published

The California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) is reporting that export demand for California farm products is rising.


     “Continued increases in agricultural exports remain a hopeful sign for the California farmers, marketers, truck drivers and dockworkers who move the products to market,” says the bureau.


Relying on the expertise of trade specialists, the CFBF thinks agricultural exports will continue the trend established last year when favorable currency exchange rates and an “emerging middle class” in several foreign countries started to push demand for California produce.


No doubt the improvement in irrigation water supplies to Central Valley farmers will bolster this economic opportunity. Heavy rains and snow last month added to total farm water resources for the northern part of the state. The federal Central Valley Project said earlier this week that farmers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta can expect 100 percent of their water delivery. Those south of the delta should receive 45 percent of contract supplies – up 5 percent from last year's allocation.


Also, there is no rest for California orchard keepers in January. Fruit and nut farmers are busy pruning their trees and vineyards in preparation for spring. Drier weather so far this month has accommodated these activities nicely.  The cool fog of January that has blanketed the Central Valley will ensure that fruit and nut trees meet their winter chilling requirements. Tree crops such as apples and cherries need exposure to temperatures below 45 degrees for a part of their dormancy period in order to adequately set fruit when the weather warms. The California Cherry Commission is pleased with the number of chill hours thus far.


Finally, now is the time to pollinate the world's most prolific almond tree stand. California supplies 80 percent of the international almond market and almond acreage continues to expand in the golden state. Almond blossoms should begin to develop between now and the second week of February. These blossoms require pollination by insects before they can develop into nuts. The task is so monumental that California almond growers will employ more than half of the nation's 2-million commercial beehives.

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