Author: Tyler

California’s farmers are bracing for a bad harvest

California’s farmers are bracing for a bad harvest

The latest U.S. winter outlook spells trouble for dry California, where most of the state’s farms are now in the red.

California’s agricultural producers have the worst winter on record. Most of their crops are going down because of a dry spell and low precipitation that’s now in double digits for the fourth month in a row.

The latest U.S. winter outlook for most of the state spells trouble for farms and ranches that are in the red. It’s a situation that has farmers bracing for bad harvest.

“We know there is a risk of dry conditions and then that would be a problem with our markets if we don’t have any irrigation water or water,” said Tom Esterbeck, who grows alfalfa in central California’s Los Angeles County.

The bad news for farmers is that the state expects widespread drought for parts of the interior valleys, including its largest agricultural producer, the Kern River Valley.

“It’s a real concern for many parts of the state,” said Peter Sayer, a meteorologist at the California Department of Water Resources.

The U.S. Weather Service said that if the dry spell continues for the next few weeks, California could have 10 to 20 percent of its normal precipitation fall as rain, not snow. But, even if the cold and snow come, farmers aren’t likely to get their crops in.

“It’s not the worst-case scenario, but it’s bad enough,” Sayer said.

For more, here’s an account of how California’s farmers and ranchers have dealt with the dry winter so far, according to Esterbeck, who farms with other ranchers in the Los Angeles County’s Imperial Valley.

In August, the worst drought anywhere else in California was observed in the southern San Joaquin Valley. But it wasn’t nearly as severe as the drought that hit most of the state on the east side of the Sierra. That drought is still largely to blame for California’s current problems.

Kern Valley farmers are dealing with the drought and low water prices the hardest. Because of droughts in the past, “we’ve always had irrigation water,” Esterbeck said.


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