9-28 AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

Experts say if tropical weather doesn't disrupt any crops, shipping-point prices for vegetables will be about one-tenth higher this year. The demand of fresh-market vegetables is slowly improving and contributing to the price increase.

Experts say watermelon supplies are tightening and their retail prices are expected to climb. Lower crop yields and reduced market volume for all melons are driving up the costs more than last year.

Ag experts say wholesale prices for all melons may average about 20-percent higher this year.

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Citrus fruit production is down this year.

Ag experts say production for most citrus fruits is down 16-percent. Orange production is down by 18-percent, but honey tangerine production is up 69-percent from last season.

Ag experts estimate the value of this year's citrus crop at $1-billion.

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Federal regulators are putting the squeeze on a popular pomegranate juice that claims to have powerful health benefits.

The Federal Trade Commission filed complaints against the makers of "Pom Wonderful Pomegrante Juice." Their orchards are located here in the central valley.

The F.T.C. says there is no scientific evidence to support claims the products treat or prevent diseases, such as prostate cancer or heart disease. The complaints suggest the F.D.A. review the claims used in advertising.

Pom's maker disagrees with the findings, and says its research has shown encouraging results.

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California winemakers are predicting business will revive this year after a three year slump.

Ag experts at U.C. Davis say now's the time for people to take advantage of discounted prices on high-quality wines. For the past two years, wine prices have been reduced on average 15 to 25-percent.

Winemakers are predicting that business will revive soon from a slump that began in 2007.

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As many cities work to scratch out their recent bed bug infestations, a new pest is popping up around the country.

The U.S. Ag Department says the brown "stink bugs" have been reported in 29-states this year -- mostly in the Midwest and south, but also in California.

The bug does not bite people, but they tend to creep into homes and leave a rotten smell when they're squished. They're also a threat to fruit and vegetable crops.

Part of the problem is that, unlike the green stink bugs, the brown ones have no natural predators in the U.S.

The ag department has doubled its budget this year on research to find ways to combat the pest.

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