H-SANTA MARIA

Jun 3, 2011 9:38 PM by Ariel Wesler

Local farmers prepare for a wet weekend

Local farmers are getting ready for what could be a wet weekend. Many are harvesting their crops as quickly as possible to preserve what they can. Strawberry and vegetable farmers say they have been trying to harvest as much as they can before the wet weather hits. The June gloom could bring a little doom to farmers on the Central Coast,still recovering from recent rains.

"We're throwing quite a bit of fruit just from last week, so we'll see what happens this week. Hopefully, it's not too much rain," said Strawberry Farmer George Chavez.

He owns L&G Farms says even a little rain can do a lot of damage.

"The fruit sits on the plastic and if it's wet, or whatever, and then the wind comes in and it dries it up so that fruit is no marketable," Chavez said.

Jesse Perez works at Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Exchange, a co-op of five different farmers. They bring their produce to a centralized processing center, where it's unloaded and shipped.

"It's more mud than anything else. It slows down our harvesting, get mud on the containers," Perez said. "It just adds to the labor and cost of having to clean and re-clean."

While farmers aren't preparing for the worst, they are ready to expect the unexpected. So far, it's been one roller coaster season, affecting their bottom line.

"It starts to get warm and then all of a sudden it cools down. It's been pretty cool, so the berries don't ripen up as fast and we don't get the same production cycle that we normally get," Chavez said.

You shouldn't worry about your bottom line though. Farmers do not expect the rain this weekend to affect prices at your local grocery stores. We spoke with a couple of local vineyard owners, who say they're not concerned about the rain unless it turns into a hard storm or hail. Obviously, they're concerned following April's hail storms that damaged millions of dollars worth of grapes.

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