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Drought Does Not Slow Salmon Numbers – Milk, Strawberry Or Walnut Production

Despite Drought – Optimism For Central Valley Salmon Returns In 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 5.32.24 PMA recent Capital Journal column in the LA Times again cites an oft mentioned “decline” in salmon runs blaming it largely on the construction of dams, big pumps, and diversion of river water to grow crops instead of letting it flow to the ocean in large amounts.

But even in this dry year,as well as record drought in 2013 ,the  expected salmon abundance remains the biggest in a decade.

Sacramento River salmon have returned to spawn on the river they were born in, their numbers estimated last year at 405,000 – up from 2007 through 2009 when just 23,000 fish returned, In those years when under 100,000 fish returned for 4 years straight – there were predictions the iconic fish was about to go extinct.

But fed by improved ocean conditions as well as cooperation to improve on land habitat and flows, Chinook salmon returning numbers have improved since then and in 2014 despite the drought, an estimated 320,000 fall Chinook is the working number estimate by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. “We should have no trouble making our goal of 122,000 to 188,000 fish returning” says agency spokesman Mike Burner.

“The fish in the ocean who will return in 2014 are not affected by the drought for now, says Jennifer Simon of the  California Fish and Wildlife Service,a member of a technical advisory group to the PFMC.  The drought could affect young smolts who this Spring will make their way to ocean and require river water flows as well as returning adults this fall.

While the Sacramento run looks similar to last year, the Klamath run will be down some expects Simon.That may require the fishery council push for tightened fishing regulations on the Klamath. Exact estimates will be posted on the fishery agency website in about a week says Burner.

Despite Drought California Winter Strawberry Production Up 45%

California has produced 17.45 million flats of strawberries this year compared to just 12.04 million flats for the same period – February 20 of last year. That’s a 45% increase with info from the National Berry Report.

The nation’s total supply of strawberries remains about the same at 42 million flats but Florida’s  totals are way down this year from 2013. As of February 20,2013 20.3 million flats were picked in Florida  compared to 12.8 million over the same period through Feb 20, 2014.

A recent news story says “Cool weather in Florida has hampered production of strawberries in the state. With less fruit this season, growers are hoping good prices hold to make up for less production.

“Production is just beginning to pick up right now, but volume has been very low,” said Bob Hinton of Hinton Farms Produce. He cited unusually cool weather as the primary reason for lackluster production, and he estimated that this season’s crop could be as much as 40% smaller than last season’s crop. While volume has been down, he noted that quality of fruit has been good, which, along with lower volumes of fruit, has made for strong prices.”

Meanwhile despite the drought California has had good growing weather for strawberries, the most popular fruit with the public.

Mexican growers have also increased their output by more than 2 million flats as well as both California and Mexico make up for lost production in Florida.

California has over 39,000 acres of strawberries under production including 9000 acres in the Santa Maria /SLO area – about 27% of the states acreage.

Milk Production in California Up 4.5%

Despite dry times California  dairymen  have  increased  milk production in January by 4.7%. While there is  a bad drought in the state milk producers import most of their corn for feed  from the Midwest which is not in a drought. Milk producers are enjoying record high prices in 2014 and not about the step on the brakes.

Walnut Farmers Plant 15,720 Acres Of Trees

Despite worries about future water supply Central Valley walnut farmers have planted some 15,720 acres of walnut trees in 2013, up from 11,310 acres in 2012 says USDA. With prices exceeding $2/lb and strong export demand farmers are looking to keep the walnut industry growing. Their bet – there will be enough water for them

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