Agriculture briefs: Cotton production drops by nearly half

Cotton production in California will be about 42 percent less than last year, according to a federal government report.

Planted acreage has declined as farmers opted to plant crops offering a better return and then abandoned some fields due to lack of water.

Many farmers are running their harvesting machines over the fields one time this year instead of twice because of high fuel costs. That also reduces production. Harvest is expected to end early next month.

Winegrape prices up, crop down

Winegrape growers are earning higher prices for their grapes this year--and in some cases twice as much as last year. However, the crop is light and the production costs growers pay have also increased.

Growers with an average size crop will do well, but those with below average yields may not. With supply and demand becoming more equal, there is optimism the farmers will be able to earn profitable prices in the future and vineyard acreage will stabilize.

Rice harvest will conclude soon

California rice growers are winding down their harvest. The bulk of the crop is in, but farmers with later varieties will be harvesting for another couple weeks. The California Rice Commission says farmers are reporting about average yields. That means some have above average and some below. Farmers say the quality of the grain is very good. Weather has been reported as good during most of the growing season. Planted acreage is about the same as last year.