9-14 AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

This year's crop is larger than last year. An estimated 92,000 tons of olives are hanging on trees in the northern and southern parts of the central valley.

Prices are holding even, despite the large crop. Manzanillo olives will bring $1,250 per ton, while Sevillanos will bring about 12,000 dollars at ton.

This year, growers have had to deal with delays in mechanical harvesting and disease outbreaks. Cooperative extension advisers say olive knot, is on the rise in the central valley. The disease affects fruit yield and quality. Black scale is another disease causing problems for growers this year. The disease defoliates trees.

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The USDA's preliminary numbers say California producers' commodity receipts are down.

In 2009, the total was $34.8-billion. That's down from the $38.4-billion farmers and ranchers received in 2008.

The USDA blames the drop on falling milk prices. Milk producers saw a return of $4.5-billion for their milk in 2009. That's a 34-percent decrease from 2008.

Hay also saw a significant drop. Returns were down 44 percent in 2009 to $864-million.

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More dairy beverages will fall under a new pricing formula beginning January 1st.

Capitol Press reports, the National Milk Producers Federation petitioned the USDA five years ago to change its "class one" definition to include more milk-containing beverages that were once "class two ".

The agency published a final rule last month. It requires that a product be both under 6.5-percent nonfat milk solids and under 2.25-percent milk protein to be exempt.

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Cooks are turning to foraging to find flavorful roots, flowers and nuts that grow in many urban areas.

Many bay area chefs are looking beyond farms and gardens for the greens, roots and berries that thrive in California's landscape. They say many of their customers feel eating foods that grow wild and learning to identify, harvest and prepare them satisfies a need to connect to the environment in a novel way.

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