Agriculture briefs

Parched pastures affect ranchers' plans

As cattle ranchers struggle with dried-out rangelands, some have delayed stocking their herds for the coming winter season.

A government crop report issued Monday said the combination of parched pastures and high hay prices left stocker-cattle operators reluctant to begin gathering animals to take to winter pastures. Analysts see continued strong milk demand

With "robust demand" for milk expected to continue into 2008, analysts predict that on-farm milk prices will stay relatively high, too.

Milk prices have hit records this year, though farmers say the higher prices mainly help them recover from several years of low returns.

Farmers remain optimistic about blueberries

A blueberry boom continues in the San Joaquin Valley, though farm advisors say planting of new acreage has slowed somewhat.

Positive health news about blueberries has stimulated demand and recently developed varieties have made the crop easier to grow in the valley.

Additional blueberry acreage is also being planted in coastal counties.