AG Watch

Valley growers in need of more water for crops

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Growers say recent rain in the Valley and snow in the sierra was not enough to save them from a tough irrigation season.

Many are now preparing to spend thousands more this year to make up for the lack of allocated water. An almond orchard is already being irrigated with well water saving on water purchases later.

But this summer Spielman Farms will double its water budget because of this drier than normal winter. Ground water is already being pumped up to the surface and being moved through these sprinklers, all in an effort to keep almond buds pushing through.

Tony Spielman grows 350 acres of almond trees by watering; now he's trying to stay one step ahead of the upcoming dry summer season.

"I'm running my deep wells now, so then I don't have to purchase it through the district later," Spielman said.

Many growers don't have access to their own wells, so extra money will be spent to keep these permanent crops producing.

"The water I save here, I can put toward my other fields from my lump sum later," Spielman said.

Spielman, like many other growers in the area will receive much less irrigation water than in previous years. Some say recent rainfall helped, but the moisture barely moved the rain gauges that are several inches short of normal.

Spielman says he'll be forced to pay to make up the difference at a cost of $100,000.

"That has a great impact on your budget, double your water costs," Spielman said.

Some growers in the Valley are getting as little as 25 percent of the usual water allotment which hurts a grower's bottom line. The short water supply may also keep some growers from planting certain crops like corn or alfalfa later this year.

Instead the money usually spent to plant those crops will be used to supplement the water shortage.

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legrand, fresno, fresno county, agriculture, california water, ag watch, rick montanez
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