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Ag Beat: Tomatoes / Tree Fungus / Love That Eggnog

Tomato Growers Cut Plantings

Growers of processing tomatoes are expected to cut the tonnage of tomatoes they harvest by around 10 percent this year according to a USDA report. The volume may drop to 11.6 million tons in tons – the lowest amount since 2006. Acreage is expected to drop to 235,000 acres compared to 297,000 acres in 2015. There is a world-wide surplus of the product with California producing 95% of US supply and around one third the world’s volume. Kings County planted over 31,000 acres of processing tomatoes in 2015, one of the top production counties in the state.

Fungus Threatening Area Orchards

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 11.03.33 AMWhen an almond tree keels over in a mature orchard, it could be a sign of something ominous. UC scientists are tracking a fungal infection in San Joaquin Valley almond trees that can cost farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost production.
The fungus Ganoderma grows in the living heartwood of almond, peach and other stone fruit trees. The only outward sign is development of rather large shelf-like mushrooms on the trunks called conks.
“Once you see conks on the tree, it is essentially dying from the inside out,” researcher Bob Johnson said. “The conks release trillions of spores which wind and water move through the orchard and to neighboring orchards. It’s next to impossible to stop the spread.”
A farmer in Hanford recently pulled out and destroyed every tree in his 120-acre orchard because of Ganoderma infection. “This was a 9- or 10-year-old orchard, just when the grower starts making money after investing in its establishment,” Johnson said. “Instead, his trees were just falling down right and left and he pulled out the orchard.”
In Fresno County another orchard is starting to lose trees. “In his orchard, every fifth tree has a massively sporulating conk,” Johnson said. “Growers see the conks, but they don’t realize they are the infectious part of Ganoderma fungi.”

Grocer Shutting Down In Coalinga

Save-A-Lot has announced that they are closing all of its Nevada and California locations in 13 towns including one in Coalinga and one in Taft in the San Joaquin Valley. The grocery store says they will close in a few weeks.

Kings County Jobless Rate 9.9 Percent

Kings County’s jobless rate was 9.9 percent in December. That’s up from 9.3 percent in November but down year over from 10.7 percent. Surprisingly, the county had 700 more farm jobs than a year ago while nonfarm jobs were down 200 from December 2015.

Love That Eggnog

Local dairy prices are on the rebound as consumers love those full-fat products. This holiday season there were record eggnog sales reported by processors as this full-fat beverage joined whole milk and butter’s increasing popularity.

A Mighty Wind

You thought the wind was blowing hard around your house during these past storms. Up at Tahoe’s ski resort Squaw Valley, a wind gust of 154 mph was recorded on a peak there Sunday.

Brown Announces Help For Central Valley Counties After Storms

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. this week issued two emergency proclamations to secure funding to help communities respond to and recover from severe winter storms that have caused flooding, mudslides, erosion, debris flow and damage to roads and highways. The emergency proclamations issued due to January and December storms includes Kings,Tulare,Kern and Fresno counties.It directs Caltrans to formally request immediate assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program. The proclamations also direct the Office of Emergency Services to provide assistance to local governments.

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