June 9, 2000 |
When Joe Kretsch looked into the jar of ugly-looking bugs, he knew the war against the latest voracious pest to threaten California agriculture had finally reached his doorstep. Inside the jar were half a dozen glassy-winged sharpshooter nymphs from a friend's backyard vine--confirmation that infestation has spread to the heart of the Central Valley, state agriculture officials said this week.
May 28, 2000 |
CalPERS, the country's largest public pension fund, will soon begin investing a portion of its $175-billion fund in California agriculture, a surprising vote of confidence in a sector that has not been generating strong investment returns. It is also a worrisome development to local farm groups who fear that big institutional investment will hasten consolidation in the industry and encourage more housing development on farmland.
May 21, 2000 |
Dee Slayman knows the sad history of the pomegranate--the maligned, messy and misunderstood fruit that for 5,000 years has fought a losing battle of bad publicity. In Greek mythology, Persephone was condemned to spend months in Hades every year for eating a handful of pomegranate seeds. And many biblical scholars believe that when Eve reached out to the tree of good and evil she snatched, not an apple, but . . . you guessed it.
May 7, 2000 |
The kid in the huge booth at the Torrance Farmers Market, with his spiky bleached hair, baggy shorts and an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt, hardly looks the part of a new wave of agricultural entrepreneurs. But Shaun Rosendahl, whose sunburned face belies his 21 years, will sell more than $10,000 worth of apples, strawberries, cherries and other fruit on this day in Torrance, at just one of the 44 booths at farmers markets he manages this time of year from his Hermosa Beach apartment.
April 19, 2000 |
California's main program for enforcing fair wages and working conditions in the farm industry imposed the lowest total fines in its history last year. The program alleged just 11 minimum-wage violations statewide. Only three dozen times did its inspectors charge the state's farms and ranches with illegally hiring children, one-quarter the number of citations for underage workers issued six years earlier.
April 15, 2000 |
State and federal agriculture officials have enlisted a team of Brazilian scientists to map the genetic code of the microbe that causes Pierce's disease, a bacterial scourge affecting thousands of acres of California vineyards, in an attempt to stop its spread across the state.
February 9, 2000 |
After more than a year of political and legal wrangling, J.G. Boswell Co. has won its bid to develop four massive dairies on old cotton farmland. With Kings County Planning Commission permits in hand this week, the cotton giant can now find buyers--dairymen looking to relocate or expand their herds. The project is expected to put as many as 47,700 cows on 6,000 acres halfway between Hanford and Corcoran. Four of five commissioners voted in favor of the project after a brief meeting.
January 23, 2000 |
California's shrinking olive industry is in danger of extinction, threatened by plunging prices and competition from Spanish and Moroccan imports that in the last few years have taken over almost half of the $150-million market for food-service olives. As olive prices have dipped close to or below the break-even point, two of the state's four remaining canneries have closed, leaving many growers with no buyers for this year's crop.
January 9, 2000 |
Just west of Bakersfield, in the tiny community of Buttonwillow, workers are pouring the foundation of what will be the first tomato-processing facility in Kern County when it opens later this year. The $35-million plant, built and financed by a group of 23 local growers organized as Rio Bravo Tomato Co., is a reminder that in California agriculture is still a growth industry.
December 21, 1999 |
Is a prune by any other name a "dried plum"? Or is it still just a prune? If it were up to members of the California prune industry, prunes would have a name change--and, with a new name, they hope, a new image as well. Targeting younger consumers, particularly women ages 35 to 50, the state's prune growers and marketers want to start calling their product "dried plums."