Central Coast growers benefit from El Nino rain - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Central Coast growers benefit from El Nino rain

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Several inches of rain have fallen across the Central Coast and farmers are reaping the benefits.

Arroyo Grande grower Tom Ikeda says consistent rains like those this week are good, because they wash a lot of the salts from the soil which have built up over the last four years of drought.

"Good thing is, it came down over a period of time," Ikeda said. "So it almost all soaked into the ground, which is what we want. Those big downpours where you get a lot of runoff don't help as much and maybe cause more damage. But nice steady rains over a period of time is what we hope for."

Santa Maria grower George Adam says the steady showers replenish underground aquifers, something that does not happen when there's a short downpour that causes a lot of runoff.

"If we could order a rain supply, what we've had has been perfect and hopefully we get another 6-8 weeks of the same," Adam said. "There's not a lot of erosion in the hills and that was a big fear after after having such a long dry season, that there would be a tremendous amount of erosion, but it's really worked well with the way the rains have come so far."

Rain storms do make it difficult to harvest and plant, but Ikeda and Adam are happy as long as there's more rain on the way.

"Take advantage of a good El Nino and if we can keep those rain rates at less than an inch an hour, then we're okay," Adam said.

"We need a whole winter's worth of good rainfall to really make a difference," Ikeda said.

He says good rains can push salts through the root zone, which is good, because otherwise, salt can build up and damage the plants.

One complication, Ikeda says more rain increases the cost of harvesting those crops because it takes more time and more resources.

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