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Central Valley is sheep country

by Don Curlee

Posted on Wednesday September 25, 2019, 10:05 am

Sheep production is one of California’s low-profile agricultural industries, prominent in four Central Valley counties, but that’s enough to place the state right behind Texas as the country’s leading supplier of meat and wool.

Significant numbers of sheep are produced in and near Rio Vista and Lodi, even along the North Coast through Petaluma into Humboldt County. Flocks in these areas tend to be smaller, 100 or less, but additional people seem to be attracted to sheep production at this scale each year. Wherever they are maintained the animals tolerate California’s warmer climates, and produce enormous amounts of meat and wool

Leasing huge blocks of harvested alfalfa and allowing hundreds of sheep to forage there, restrained only by temporary fencing, is a common annual occurrence in the Central Valley’s sheep country. The animals will likely b...

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Farmers, researchers try to hold off deadly citrus greening long enough to find cure

by Diane Nelson

Posted on Wednesday September 25, 2019, 9:57 am

In an orange grove outside Exeter, California, workers climb aluminum ladders to pick fruit with expert speed. California produces 80 percent of the nation’s fresh oranges, tangerines and lemons, most of it in small Central California communities like these.

“This may be the last place in the world where you can still grow citrus,” says farmer Richard Bennett, reaching high to pull an orange from a tree. He peels it in two long ribbons, and the scent of zest fills the air. “Citrus is so important to our health and economy, and it’s threatened by a devastating disease.”

The disease is called huanglongbing or HLB — more commonly known as citrus greening. It has decimated groves in Asia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Florida, and is now spreading in California.

Citrus greening can move with alarming speed. In Florida, the disease wa...

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New Tool Improves Beekeepers' Overwintering Odds and Bottom Line

by Kim Kaplan

Posted on Wednesday September 25, 2019, 9:51 am

A new tool from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) can predict the odds that honey bee colonies overwintered in cold storage will be large enough to rent for almond pollination in February. Identifying which colonies will not be worth spending dollars to overwinter can improve beekeepers' bottom line.

Beekeepers have been losing an average of 30 percent of overwintered colonies for nearly 15 years. It is expensive to overwinter colonies in areas where winter temperatures stay above freezing. So a less expensive practice of overwintering bee colonies in cold storage is becoming popular.

This new tool calculates the probability of a managed honey bee colony surviving the winter based on two measurements: the size of colony and the percent varroa mite infestation in September, according to ARS entomologist Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, who headed the team. DeGrandi...

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