Welcome to our Ag Blog. Our field scouts will offer a unique ground-level perspective from the field to you as an independent field scout with the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project. Our mission is to promote sustainable farming systems throughout the Central Valley and provide you with the latest information about cotton, almond and alfalfa crops. From time to time, you'll also find guest posts from our project team and other contributors. This Blog is edited by Gilbert Mohtes-Chan.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Drought Part IV: Valley Growers Press Ahead Amid Uncertainly Over Water
It is no surprise we’re headed into a fourth
straight dry year and growers are getting quite anxious around the Valley as the
prospects of a March Miracle or April showers appear slimmer by the day.
State Water surveyor finds a skimpy snowpack in the Sierra.
It also was no surprise
that state Department of Water Resources surveyors found dismal conditions last
week during their monthly wintertime snowpack measurements in the Sierra Nevada.
They reported the water content in the snow was less than an inch, the lowest
level since 1991. Even the foot of snow that fell in the high country a week
ago won’t make much difference to reverse what is certainly going to be a
fourth straight year of drought, water officials say.
Normally, Mother Nature’s water savings account –
the Sierra snowpack – supplies about a third of our water needs. Not this year
– again. And, it was no surprise when water managers also last week indicated
farmers probably won’t get any federal water for a second year in a row.
As you recall, farmers left acres of fields fallow
(an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 acres), uprooted almond trees, turned water
well drilling into a booming business and diverted water to more profitable
crops. Once again, growers are trying to navigate through these rough waters.
Alfalfa growers are irrigating for the first time this season.
however, are a resilient bunch. Despite these challenging times, growers are
pressing ahead this season.
Field scout Carlos Silva reports many alfalfa
growers are sticking it out again and have been irrigating their crop in the
past week. It’s too early to tell how many cuttings they’ll have this season.
Last year, some growers thought they would harvest
until early summer, figuring water supplies would go dry by then. Somehow,
though, many growers were able to harvest alfalfa until the fall – about the
same as a normal season.
For now, the season’s first alfalfa is growing
nicely, standing about 8 to 10 inches tall. Carlos plans to start scouting for
Day Alert: Here’s a reminder the San Joaquin Sustainable
Farming Project’s first event of the year is this Thursday, March 12. Learn
about pesticide and pest management issues in almonds, alfalfa cotton at this
free event scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon at the Scout Hut, 1910 Marguerite Street,
Dos Palos. Our speakers are UC IPM extension advisor Dr. Pete Goodell, state
Department of Pesticide Regulation environmental scientist Brandi Martin and Chris
Linneman, program manager and engineer with the Westside
San Joaquin River Watershed Coalition.For more information, contact program Director Marcia Gibbs at (530)
(530) 370-5325. There should be lots of useful information, especially with
another challenging year ahead.