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Recent rain provides much-needed water for Central Coast growers - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Recent rain provides much-needed water for Central Coast growers and farmers

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After lots of sunshine, the Central Coast finally got a big rain storm that was desperately needed.

Local farmers and growers are enjoying the extra water. The rain helped with quite a few crops, including strawberries.

Santa Maria strawberry grower Daren Gee says this winter has provided perfect weather (45-55 degree nights and 65-75 degree days) for strawberries.

Annie and Dale Hornberger are visiting from just outside of Austin, Texas. But for years, they called the Central Coast home.

"They're really sweet," Annie Hornberger said about the Santa Maria strawberries. "Those are like the best I've tasted since we were here last time!"

"We always wait until they come from the field because they're freshest," said Carol Christensen, Santa Maria resident. "And we love it because it's nature's sweet candy."

There are a couple of reasons for the sweeter, more flavorful fruit. For starters, this year's weather is completely different from last year's.

"Last year we had a very warm, dry winter and the strawberries came on a lot faster," Gee said. "But this year we have a lot more chill hours on the plant."

Gee says 2016 has potential for 250 hours below 45 degrees, which is perfect for strawberries.

"The rains have been very timely," Gee said. "So we planted. Rain. Got a little bit salty. Rain. We're gonna have probably bigger, sweeter (strawberries), and we'll probably have an extended season."

The manager of Mesa Vineyard Management in Templeton says the recent rain was a huge help for grape growers and vintners as well, but he still hopes for more rain in the near future.

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