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Grape, Walnut Growers Worried About Wet Weather

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LODI (CBS13) — The early fall rain that started dropping in the Sacramento region on Monday has some valley farmers scrambling.

Wine grape growers really wanted a couple extra weeks of dry weather, but that’s not happening so they had to start picking.

Workers at Mohr Fry Ranches in Lodi are up against the clock ruled by Mother Nature, picking tons and tons of wine grapes before rain rolling into our region can ruin the precious crop.

“What will happen is the rain will go into that berry and that will explode and cause issues and the bunch will rot,” grower Bruce Fry explained.

But Fry says 80 percent of his 700 acres is already harvested.

As for the remaining 20 percent? It’s a gamble. All crews can do is pick as much as they can before nightfall. The rest will remain on the vine and ride out the storms.

“You are always urgent because at the end of the year and you spend all of your money growing the crop ,” he said.

Wineries tracking the storms taste-tested the grapes ahead of the wet weather and made the decision to start picking before it’s too late.

Another crop, walnuts, could also be affected by these early storms.

wet weather could prevent walnut grower Alvin Cortopassi from turning on heavy machines needed to harvest acres and acres of walnuts sitting on his sprawling Linden ranch.

“We’re not on top of pavement. This is dirt,” he said. “When it rains heavy machinery has to go over it and you won’t physically be able to go through 45

The 8-ton shakers and pickers could be parked for days.

Cortopassi says the walnuts are ready now, but with the threat of rain, he’s forced to wait.

while the amount of rainfall predicted isn’t enough to damage the crop. delaying the harvest could cripple his bottom line, forcing Cortopassi to harvest the old fashion way — by hand.

We’ll try and gather as many hand pickers as possible if that happens (but) it costs about half of what the walnuts are worth to do that,” he said.

It takes Cortopassi two weeks to harvest his crop with the heavy machinery. All he can do now is wait for the storms to pass.

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