Tim Hearden

Northern California Reporter
Hearden, Tim

Rice growers wrap up near-normal planting season

- Northern California rice growers are wrapping up their planting season as spring rains enabled them to plant close to 500,000 acres, a significant increase from last year.

Mechanical harvests of raisin grapes increase dramatically

- About 28 percent of California's raisin grape acreage was harvested mechanically last season, up dramatically from two years ago, and experts think machine harvests will keep increasing as labor costs rise.

California ag groups give more than $746,000 in scholarships


ANDERSON, Calif. — Two agricultural groups are handing out hundreds of scholarships worth more than $746,000 this spring.

The Sierra Pacific Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by Sierra Pacific...

Dairy lessons highlight annual ag awareness day


YREKA, Calif. — Teams of elementary-school students waited eagerly for their turns in a contest to see who could fill buckets with milk the fastest.

They were “milking” a faux cow hosted by loc...

Calif. almond yields to increase 6 percent in 2016, survey says


ORLAND, Calif. — Almond growers in California expect to produce a 2 billion pound crop this year, a nearly 6 percent increase from 2015, according to a government report.

The National Agricultural Statistics...

Brown’s budget revision leaves CDFA, drought funding intact


SACRAMENTO — In his annual May budget revision, Gov. Jerry Brown kept the Department of Food and Agriculture’s nearly $80.7 million general-fund allocation intact even though overall revenue has fallen shor...

California to strengthen Asian citrus psyllid quarantine


SACRAMENTO — As Asian citrus psyllids are beginning to show up regularly in California’s prime citrus-growing region, state officials may strengthen the quarantine that’s been in place to guard again...

Strawberry production lags way behind, but industry isn’t worried


WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Strawberry production in California is way behind the pace of the last two years, but industry insiders aren’t too worried about ending up with a failed crop.

As of April 30, 42....

Brown seeks to cement reporting regs for smaller irrigation districts


SACRAMENTO — A far-reaching new drought-related executive order by Gov. Jerry Brown seeks to make permanent many emergency water-saving measures enacted in response to the drought, including water use reporting ma...

Plentiful navel orange harvest begins to wind down


The harvest of navel oranges in the San Joaquin Valley is entering its home stretch, and growers say they’re picking an more abundant crop than expected.

Consistently large oranges could help the industry su...

UC webinar series to help farms with agritourism


DAVIS, Calif. — A series of upcoming University of California webinars will provide free marketing and other advice to farms that have made agritourism a part of their business.

The hour-long, 11 a.m. webina...

Egg prices plunge as supplies rebound


FRESNO, Calif. — Commercial egg prices in California are plummeting, and a slow global economy combined with a rebounding chicken flock after last year’s devastating avian flu outbreak are among the contrib...

Lesson plans teach elementary-school students about almonds


MODESTO, Calif. — A growers’ group has put together a lesson plan for elementary-school teachers to enlighten youngsters about almonds.

The Almond Board of California’s new video and activity b...

Despite drought, California almond acreage rose 6 percent in 2015


SACRAMENTO — The drought has done little to slow the growth of almond acreage in California, as the more than 1.1 million overall acres planted in 2015 was 6 percent more than the previous year.

Of last year...

New state officers bring humor, passion to California FFA


FRESNO, Calif. — California FFA’s newly elected state officer team promised the more than 5,000 students attending the organization’s state convention that they’ll put plenty of passion and en...

CDFA’s Ross urges FFA members to think of the future


FRESNO, Calif. — State Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross told 5,000 FFA members here that California’s agriculture-related industries will need their energy and innovations in the challenging years ...

Energy bill amendment to enable Klamath Basin water, power plans


KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Proponents of certain water solutions in the Klamath Basin say an energy bill amendment that passed the U.S. Senate provides key support for improving facilities and other initiatives.


March storms prompt SWP to boost allocations to 60 percent


SACRAMENTO — With runoff from the March storms filling Northern California reservoirs, the state Department of Water Resources has upped its anticipated deliveries to State Water Project customers to 60 percent of...

Strong storms spoil California prune blossom


RED BLUFF, Calif. — Prune producers’ worst fears about El Nino have come true, as strong storms spoiled the March blossom and left many growers with about half their normal crop or less.

Cold temperat...

Wolf conservation group offers workshops for ranchers


REDDING, Calif. — A wolf conservation group is making good on a promise to educate ranchers on how to prevent clashes between their livestock and predators.

The California Wolf Center is sponsoring a series ...

March storms were likely swan song for El Nino, forecasters say


SACRAMENTO — The sometimes-ferocious rainstorms that hit California in March were likely the beginning of the end for El Nino, as the warm ocean system that produced a wet winter in many parts of the West is conti...

Supporters will appeal nullification of decertification vote


SACRAMENTO — A farmworker’s allies expressed outrage — but not surprise — after a state labor board on April 15 nullified a 2013 union-decertification vote at Fresno-based Gerawan Farming, Inc...

Grape acreage in California continues downward trend


SACRAMENTO — Overall grape acreage in California continued a slight downward trend in 2015, weighted mainly by raisin growers reeling from rising labor costs.

In all, 918,000 acres of vineyards were in the g...

Calif. rice plantings to increase only slightly from 2015


SACRAMENTO — Though many Northern California growers will get their full allocations of surface water this year, rice acreage statewide is expected to only slightly rise from 2015 levels, according to a government...

Entertainment boosts farmers’ market attendance, sales, managers say

- Many farmers' markets in California now include live music, entertainment and other attractions, and managers say that creating a festive family atmosphere boosts sales for vendors.

Almond growers, beekeepers urged to report post-bloom hive damage

- The Almond Board of California is urging growers and beekeepers to provide information about any post-blossom problems in hives to authorities to assist ongoing research into honeybee die-offs.

State, federal officials sign new Klamath dam agreements

- U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown were among the dignitaries who signed new agreements to remove four dams from the Klamath River and do fisheries improvements and ...

Rains put Calif. strawberry production behind last year’s pace

- This winter's El Nino-powered rains on California's Central Coast has put strawberry production well behind last year's pace, but industry insiders are hopeful that the peak harvest season will yield an abundance of berries.

Ranchers combine old and new

- Jim and Mary Rickert have won numerous awards for their environmental stewardship and product quality in running Prather Ranch, an organic beef operation in Northern California.

SJ Valley to get some CVP water after March storms

- Storms in March have enabled the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to give full water allocations to farms except in the San Joaquin Valley, where deliveries are initially expected to be 5 percent to 30 percent of requested suppli...

Weather uncertainty dictates continued need to conserve water, Calif. officials say

- With El Nino rapidly receding, California's near-normal snowpack could be as good as it gets for a while, as an anticipated La Nina pattern next winter brings more uncertainty to the state's ability to emerge from its histo...

Calif. minimum wage hike could force farm mechanization, job losses

- Farm group representatives say proposals to raise California's minimum wage to $15 an hour could lead to job losses throughout agriculture and cause some growers to mechanize or move their operations elsewhere.

Research shows walnuts have fewer calories than thought

- Research from the USDA has found that walnuts contain 21 percent fewer calories than originally thought. The study could further cement walnuts' image as a healthful food.

Growers urged to get involved in local agencies’ groundwater plans

- California's Department of Water Resources has been taking comments on emergency regulations to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, under which local aquifer-governing agencies must be put in place by mid-...