Jan 22, 2010 9:35 PM by Ariel Wesler

Storms halt harvesting for local farmers

Storms throughout the region have created headaches for local growers.

The weather is keeping workers inside and farm equipment off the fields. They say the rain is welcome--just not this much... at one time.

This much rain over-saturates the ground and crops. The majority of produce sold across the country comes from the fields of California--so a rainy week like can have a major impact on our food supply.

It's a muddy situation for local farmers after nearly a week of rain brought harvesting to a halt.

"The fields get so saturated, trying to get in and get the product out of the fields is just a mess. We were getting some 60mph gusts. Besides that, we lost power at our cooler, said Alfred Santos. He works as a field supervisor for Silva and Son farming in Santa Maria.

While farmers say they've needed the rain,

"It will help recharge the groundwater basin. It'll fill the reservoirs. It will leech salts out of the root salts of the plants," said Richard Quandt, President of the Grower and Shipper Association.

"You like to get it over a period of time, so it will soak in," Santos said.

Farmers try to plant everyday so they always have crops to harvest and a steady supply of produce. They say these storms will ultimately affect what consumers see at the grocery store.

"Around April, they'll see periods where there's shortages of a lot of the fresh produce that is normally planted say in the last week or two," Quandt said.

"If the sun comes out and starts warming up just a little, some of this broccoli will start coming out," Santos said.

So, now the race is on to salvage as much as they can.

Safety comes first--especially during lightning storms. One grower said a worker was hit by lightning several years ago, so growers aren't taking any chances.

Farmers say the reduced supply would also affect the price of spring produce.


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