From the Sacramento Bee:

As newly planted crops begin to emerge from the soil, a sense of renewed optimism is spreading across the central San Joaquin Valley.

After several dry and sluggish years, farmers are planting more acres, investing in equipment and rehiring idled workers.

Fueling the comeback are more irrigation water for west side growers and rising prices for major crops, including cotton, wheat and nuts.

"Things are much better than they have been in a while," said west side farmer Dan Errotebere, who plans to farm more acres of cotton and almonds, and anticipates his labor needs will rise by about 10 percent.

Farm hiring is up throughout Fresno County. Last month, the number of farm jobs in the county rose by 1,000, to 43,800, compared with the same month last year. That boost helped Fresno County's unemployment rate drop from 18.4 percent in March to 17 percent in April.

For more, see: San Joaquin farmers are planting more, hiring more