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Rare May rains bring bad news for cherry growers
 
By Vicky Boyd

Heading into the 2019 California cherry harvest, producers and packers were cautiously optimistic about the possibly record crop of high-quality cherries maturing on the trees. But a series of storms May 15-19 dumped over 3 inches of rain on some locations, dampening their enthusiasm by causing widespread fruit cracking.

As of May 24, some growers said their entire crop was a loss, and they were waiting for insurance adjusters to visit their operations. Others said the situation was a moving target, changing almost daily, and the jury was still out on how much fruit they would lose to splitting and cracking and whether harvesting was economically justified.

By Vicky Boyd 

Ray Quaresma, a third-generation dairy producer, stands below ground level of the rotary milking parlor.

Photo by Vicky Boyd

 

If you ask Manteca dairyman Ray Quaresma about the issues facing the industry, he doesn’t hesitate: “labor, labor, labor.”

Although the cost of labor continues to increase, he said that isn’t his main concern. Trying to navigate the maze of ever-increasing labor regulations and finding good, reliable employees who will show up on time ready to work remain top of mind.

To that end, Quaresma installed a robotic arm about a year ago that takes care of pre-milking washing and sanitizing cows’ udders.

“It takes the position of four people.” Quaresma said. “You don’t have the training time. You don’t have the relief time. You don’t have the vacation time.”

By Kevin Swartzendruber 

Farm Bureau representatives in the Central Valley joined several members the San Joaquin Farm Bureau at Roberts-Union Farm Center to showcase water issues during the Amgen Tour of California event on May 14.

Since the Amgen Tour road cycling event has an international audience and was routed right past Roberts-Union, Farm Bureau saw the opportunity to welcome the riders, but also showcase the issues facing Central Valley farmers on an international stage

By Craig W. Anderson 

What a difference a year makes: in 2018 dairy prices appeared ready to match the industry’s optimistic forecast and then the trade battles began. U.S. dairy producers have suffered losses and the future seems to hold more of the same for the dairy industry, especially with an increase in tariffs on Chinese commodities that went into effect recently.

“China is a major market for our dairy products and while prices may be on the upswing, tariffs are certainly affecting the dairy industry,” said Jack Hamm, SJFB past president and Lodi dairyman.

Despite all the agonizing over tariffs, Lodi dairy farmer Hank Van Exel said, “We’re still exporting a huge amount of product as we’re a big powder producing industry.” 

By Craig W. Anderson 

San Joaquin County and California dairy farmers are getting used to marketing their milk under the new Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) and said, Jack Hamm, past SJFB president and dairy farmer near Lodi, “It’s a different system than what we once had and one that we’re still learning.”

Hamm added, “This puts us on the same playing field as the rest of the nation, and our prices are getting better as well.”