TURLOCK A gathering in Turlock on Wednesday will explore how to draw tourists to farms, rivers and other San Joaquin Valley attractions.
TURLOCK Farmers in the Turlock Irrigation District got a small boost Tuesday in the amount of water available this year.
Apple, the high-tech company, is helping to protect apples, the fruit, along with other crops around the state. A new campaign urges residents to take photos of invasive insects and plants with their iPhones or iPads. They can then transmit the images to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which will determine whether they are a threat.
MERCED Heading into a likely bone-dry growing season, irrigation officials are offering a new program for farmers who are willing to pay for extra water. Farmers have placed orders for only about half of the available supply, but irrigation officials said the pilot program has been "extremely successful" and will continue into the future.
SACRAMENTO At least one member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board wants to know more about the prospective construction contractor for the first stretch in Fresno and Madera before he votes to award a contract next month. At the agency's meeting Thursday in Sacramento, board member Jim Hartnett of Redwood City took note of a "significant difference" between the technical scores of the two lowest bidders for the 29-mile route.
The federal government Thursday projected a near-record almond crop in California this year -- a boon to an industry that has had little trouble finding buyers around the world. The estimate of 2,000,700,000 pounds was announced at the Modesto headquarters of the Almond Board of California. "I think we need that much or more to satisfy our constantly growing market," said Ron Fisher, owner of Fisher Nut Co. of Modesto. "It's been remarkable."
With a deadline less than two weeks away, officials say hundreds of regional farmers have not signed up for the state's mandatory "nitrogen budgeting" program aimed at improving groundwater quality.
MODESTO The intriguing idea of merging the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts is resurfacing, this time with the MID board chairman's support. "I think it could save us in the long run," Nick Blom said Thursday. "We are duplicating a lot of administrative stuff (and other functions). Maybe if we work together, it could be done more efficiently."
An internship program aimed at improving energy efficiency for farmers in Merced County is under way. The Agricultural Energy Efficiency Internship Program provides energy strategies for agricultural operations in Merced County, according to a news release from the Great Valley Center. It teamed up with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to offer the program.
WASHINGTON A politically difficult bill allowing the expansion of Lake McClure will now test whether Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, has learned how to move the levers of California water. As chairman of the House water and power subcommittee, McClintock can showcase his favorite issues. He did so Thursday, presenting to another House panel his legislation allowing potential expansion of Lake McClure by the Merced Irrigation District.
FRESNO Farming interests in Madera and Merced counties dropped their environmental lawsuit challenging the first section of the statewide high-speed rail project. The California High-Speed Rail Authority and representatives of several agricultural organizations announced the settlement Thursday afternoon after Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley signed off on it, less than 24 hours before attorneys were to argue their points in Frawley's courtroom.
MERCED American Rivers, a national river conservation group, called attention to the Merced River on Tuesday by naming it on the most endangered rivers list for 2013. Steve Rothert, California regional director with American Rivers, said the Merced River was mentioned because of a proposed reservoir expansion project. The $40 million venture would expand reservoir capacity by up to 70,000 acre-feet by raising the spillway as much as 10 feet at its main storage reservoir, Lake McClure.
MERCED The Merced Irrigation District board of directors approved a pay increase under a new contract on Tuesday with its union workers. After only two months of negotiations, the irrigation district and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have reached an agreement to boost wages and benefits for the district's 90 union workers.
MERCED The deadline is fast approaching for farmers to sign up under the state's groundwater-quality management program, which requires growers to keep "nitrogen budgets."Preliminary data suggest that hundreds, if not thousands, of commercial agricultural landowners have yet to sign up under the program.
FRESNO More than 200 people crammed their way into Fresno City Hall on Thursday, making the most of their chance to tell the California High-Speed Rail Authority how they feel about plans for a statewide high-speed train system and proposed routes through the San Joaquin Valley.
ATWATER About half of Atwater High School's student body is involved in the school Agriculture Department's semi-annual plant sale coming next month, followed by the entry of plants in the Merced County Fair's horticulture exhibits in June.
Already reeling from a paltry allocation of federal water from the Central Valley Project, farmers on the west side of the valley were stung last week when their anticipated supplies were cut even further.
CHOWCHILLA Area residents got an up-close look Wednesday at the High-Speed Rail Authority's plan for the "Chowchilla Wye." Authority officials held a public meeting to discuss several alternative routes for the Y-shaped junction, all of which would fork off south of the city heading west to San Jose and north to Merced.
Snow-surveying crews across the Sierra are seeing bad news up close this week. California has about half a snowpack. Skiing, snowshoeing or riding helicopters, the crews are making their way to high-elevation meadows for the most important snow measurement of the year.
Officials responsible for delivering water and energy to city dwellers and farms punched holes Thursday in a state plan to give more Sierra Nevada runoff to fish. Speakers told a state board in Sacramento that a game-changing Bay-Delta Plan threatens to stymie hydroelectric power during heat waves, would devastate farms in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and could create water shortages for Bay Area customers.
SACRAMENTO Politicians, farmers and irrigation district officials on Wednesday warned of severe economic damage to the valley from the state's proposal to send more water down the San Joaquin River and its salmon-bearing tributaries. At the same time, environmental regulators joined the commercial-fishing industry at the public hearing to criticize the plan for not going nearly far enough in helping the salmon fishery.
FAIRMEAD What was once called a "spaghetti bowl" of 14 potential high-speed rail routes in and around Chowchilla has been narrowed to four, and residents got their first close-up look at how their town could be affected during a workshop Wednesday. More than 100 people showed up at the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Fairmead, five miles south of Chowchilla, for the event hosted by the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
MERCED Merced residents woke up to wet roads and moderate rainfall on Wednesday, but not nearly enough to make a dent in this year's below-average precipitation, officials said. Wednesday's burst of rain brought about 0.19 inches within 24 hours, according to Jim Andersen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.
MERCED The Merced Irrigation District board of directors approved a package Tuesday designed to deal with the ongoing water shortage. Included in the sweeping motion is an early start to the irrigation season, a limit on water deliveries and a new program that will allow growers to buy additional groundwater.
MERCED When people call in sick, co-workers might try to pick up the slack. Almond growers hope the same is true for the worker bees in their orchards. The 2013 pollination seems to have gone well despite a shortage of bee colonies for rent to growers. Credit the mostly mild weather over the past week and a half, ideal for getting bees up into the branches.
MERCED Merced-area farmers and others throughout the valley are preparing to receive significantly less water this season with the Sierra snowpack well below average. "What I've got to do is plan for the worst and hope for the best," said Merced rice farmer Frenchy Meissonnier. "I'll plant half of my fields. It's a big financial hit."
The San Joaquin Valley should sharply reduce its appetite for big homes on large lots to meet housing needs of empty-nesters and growing minorities, says a recently released study. Although apartments, town homes and condominiums make up 29 percent of the valley's housing stock, up to 45 percent of new homes in the next four dec-ades should fit that category, the study says.
TULARE Faced with continued low milk prices and high feed costs, California dairy operators are increasingly being wooed by states offering cheaper costs and expanding markets. Texas, Nevada, South Dakota, North Dakota, Illinois and Kansas were among states at the World Ag Expo in Tulare this week trying to entice California dairies and anyone else interested in relocating.