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Ag Today August 27, 2021

California’s ‘Cantaloupe Center’ struggles to reign supreme as drought pummels agriculture across the West [Washington Post] This small town in California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley advertises itself as the “Cantaloupe Center of the World.” But as relentless drought punishes California and the West, the land is drying up and the cantaloupes are disappearing. Farmers have let large portions of their melon fields lie fallow as they struggle to get by on dramatically curtailed water supplies. Some are giving their vines barely enough water to stay alive in an effort to conserve. In other cases, fields that have already been planted will never...

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Ag Today August 26, 2021

Caldor Fire is throwing harvest into chaos in up-and-coming El Dorado wine country [San Francisco Chronicle] The Caldor Fire has completely upended the beginning of the harvest season in the up-and-coming El Dorado County wine region, which more than 70 wineries call home. More than a week after its eruption, some winemakers remained unable to access their cellars, and everyone, no matter their evacuation status, was on high alert due to the smoky air, which can imbue wines with unpleasant flavors. By now, winemakers throughout California are used to contending with smoke taint, since the ambient ash can spread far away...

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Ag Today August 24, 2021

Drought worsens in Southern California, with Ventura County in worst category As sweltering drought conditions continue to worsen throughout California, Ventura and other Southern California counties have shifted from “extreme” to “exceptional” drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Report. Along with Ventura County, northwest Los Angeles County, most of Kern County and the eastern portion of San Bernardino County are also in the federal report’s highest range, signifying “exceptional drought.” Almost all of California is facing detrimental drought conditions, with 50 of the state’s 58 counties under a state of emergency amid excessive drought conditions. In Ventura County, Calleguas...

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Ag Today August , 2021

The CEO Wants His Staff Vaccinated. He Also Worries They Will Quit [Wall Street Journal] Produce giant Taylor Farms, has been engaged in an all-hands effort to cajole its 22,000 employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, offering on-site vaccination clinics and cash incentives. With the help of a local union, the company has achieved a nearly 90% vaccination rate across its main Salinas, Calif., facilities, where workers run machines that cut, wash, and package raw vegetables such as broccoli and lettuce under brands including Earthbound Organic. Just over half of Taylor Farms workers in Florida and Texas have opted-in to the...

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Ag Today, August 19, 2021

'Please stay away': Major forest near Tahoe closes because of Caldor Fire [San Francisco Chronicle] The entire swath of Eldorado National Forest, southwest of Lake Tahoe, is now closed to the public because of the extreme behavior of the Caldor Fire. Late Tuesday evening, Eldorado Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais issued an emergency forestwide closure that prohibits members of the public from “going into or being upon National Forest System lands.” The closure shuts down access to nearly 800,000 acres of public land. All forest service roads and trails in the Eldorado National Forest, including the Rubicon Trail and more than 50...

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Ag Today August 17, 2021

California drought takes toll on world’s top almond producer [The Associated Press] As temperatures recently reached triple digits, farmer Joe Del Bosque inspected the almonds in his parched orchard in California’s agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, where a deepening drought threatens one of the state’s most profitable crops. Del Bosque doesn’t have enough water to properly irrigate his almond orchards, so he’s practicing “deficit irrigation” — providing less water than the trees need. He left a third of his farmland unplanted to save water for the nuts. And he may pull out 100 of his 600 acres (243 hectares) of almond trees...

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Ag Today August 16, 2021

California’s dry season is turning into a permanent state of being [Stockton Record] Drought across the Western U.S. has forced California to ration water to farms. Hydroelectric dams barely work. The smallest spark — from a lawnmower or even a flat tire — can explode into a wildfire. And now the Climate Prediction Center just issued a forecast water managers in the Western U.S. didn’t want to hear. The latest report, released Thursday, puts the odds in favor of a second straight year of La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean. La Niña tends to steer the storm track north of...

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Ag Today August 12, 2021

What Climate Change Might Do to Your Favorite Wine [Wall Street Journal] In this grape-growing season we have seen massive floods wash out vineyards in western Germany and severe drought affect California’s wine regions.  Is it possible that certain places may no longer be viable for the grapes traditionally grown there? And how might wine regions and the characteristics that define their wines shift as a result? “There is no question that we can continue to make wine in Napa,” said UC Davis professor Elizabeth Forrestel, who works with California grape growers in gathering research, “but that’s not to say that...

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Ag Today August 10, 2021

California water district pays millions over ‘unauthorized diversion’ from federal canals [Sacramento Bee] An obscure farm-irrigation agency in the San Joaquin Valley, the Panoche Water District has been struggling with a monumental scandal the past three years, with top officials under criminal indictment for embezzling public funds and illegally dumping toxic waste. It turns out the district has also been allegedly taking water from the federal government. Earlier this year Panoche agreed to pay the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation nearly $7.5 million to compensate for “unauthorized diversion of water” from two federal canals, according to a settlement agreement obtained by The...

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Ag Today August 9, 2021

California almond growers look to future amidst water woes [Fox Business] While reservoirs parch, almond growers are working to meet a continued surge in demand for their product. The state grows about 85% of the world's supply, sending almonds to China and India. Many in the industry have been put between a rock and a hard place – largely depending on where they're located – with those who have held water rights in the state the longest impacted the least. Woolf Farming & Processing President and CEO Stuart Woolf, whose family-owned business has operated on the west side of Fresno County...

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