AG Watch

Valley farmers hope for a March miracle

Monday, February 27, 2012

As of last Friday the snow pack in the Sierra measured a meager 30 percent of normal. Combine that with a decreased water allocation from both the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation this year, and Valley farmers have to make some tough choices. Some crops already planted may have to die, so that others can live and help pay the bills.

Joe Del Bosque farms 2000 acres on the Valley's west side. He grows almonds, cantaloupe tomatoes and asparagus. The almond trees are in bloom and the asparagus is just starting to shoot through the soil. Both crops will need a steady water supply over the next couple of months. But water is scarce, and experts say we're not likely to see much more of the wet stuff before the summer heat sets in.

Action News meteorologist Doug Collins says February and March are typically the wettest months of the year. "And as we move into next month it just doesn't look like the weather pattern is going to change dramatically enough to give us the rain here in the Valley and the snow in the mountains."

Del Bosque sees the lack of snow in the mountains, and he has to live with the lack of water from the feds, nevertheless, he continues to plant. "We planted some wheat, and with this 30 percent allocation it's very likely that that wheat may not get any water so we may not even produce a crop."

Del Bosque would rather take a chance on planting and losing a crop, than miss out on the market altogether. He says he can make up the loss on higher priced crops like almonds and asparagus. But then they're always another possibility.

Farmers being the eternal optimists that they are, point to the miracle of 1991. There can always be another March miracle, where at the beginning of the month the snow pack was only 16 percent of normal, by the end of that month, it was 60 percent.

And back in 1991, much like this year, there were no storms on the horizon, and very little hope of rain or snow from the experts. Del Bosque says, you never know.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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ag report, ag watch, liz harrison
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