California Grape Freeze and Ag Economy Barometer Rises
**Winegrape growers in California’s northern San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills are tallying losses from an April frost that devastated crops in many areas.
Some growers report the freeze destroyed more than 90% of winegrapes.
Two counties, Amador and Calaver, are preparing disaster declarations based on crop losses averaging 60% or more.
Much of the damage occurred during a four-hour freeze spanning night and pre-dawn hours April 11 and 12.
**The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer improved in April, rising 8 points to a reading of 121, but that remains 32% below its level from the same time last year.
Producer perspectives on current conditions and future expectations saw an uptick over the past month.
The Index of Current Conditions improved seven points to 120, and the Index of Future Expectations rose nine points to 122.
Rising commodity prices appear to be the reasons behind the improved financial outlook.
**Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA is accepting more than two million acres in offers from agricultural producers and landowners through the Conservation Reserve Program’s general signup.
It’s the first of the program’s multiple signups occurring this year.
With about 3.4 million acres expiring this year, Vilsack encourages producers and landowners to consider the Grassland and Continuous signups, both of which are currently open.