Food and Farm News

More snow could help projects deliver more water

When state surveyors return to the Sierra Nevada Thursday, they'll find much more snow--a situation that encourages farmers. The Sierra snowpack now stands at about 105 percent of average, up from 70 percent at the start of the month. Farmers say they hope winter storms continue, and that improved rain and snow will lead to better water supplies. State and federal water projects delivered supplies of 35 and 50 percent last year.

Grape growers respond to losses from wildfire smoke

Smoke from wildfires caused millions of dollars in losses for winegrape growers last year, and they're taking steps in response. Research represents one step, as specialists seek more information on how wildfire smoke affects grapes and wine. About three-quarters of the state's vineyards are covered by crop insurance, and a grape growers organization encourages more farmers to enroll. And a disaster bill in Congress could include relief for farmers with smoke-damaged grapes.

Tree nurseries report continued demand for nuts

Nurseries that supply young trees to plant in new or replacement orchards say nuts remain popular among growers. Consumption of almonds and other nuts has continued to improve, and nuts offer farmers the added advantage of not needing as many employees to tend and harvest the trees once they mature. Nursery operators say they're selling more trees in containers, meaning they can be planted at different times of year other than the dormant winter season.

Study offers new insights into honeybee pest

New information about how a tiny pest attacks honeybees may offer clues for how to protect the pollinators. U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers say microscopic images of the varroa mite show that the mite appears to feed on a different part of bees than originally thought. The mites have been isolated as one cause of bee population declines. USDA says the study should help in developing new treatments to help honeybees fend off mite attacks.

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