Reporting Ian Schwartz
SUTTER COUNTY (CBS13) – In some parts of California, it’s been a record-dry start to the year and it’s worrying some local farmers.
In some parts of the Sierra it has been the driest start to the year ever on record. In Tahoe City, just over three quarters of an inch of rain has fallen this year. It’s a little more than a half an inch drier than the previous record set in 1991.
The lack of moisture isn’t only shrinking snowpack, but starting to concern farmers like Dan Silva.
Silva and his crew are just sending off a load of last year’s walnut crop to market as a new one is waiting in the fields. But the real wait for him has been on the rain.
“I could see a couple more inches of rain. I’d like to see it in half-inch increments so we get some good thorough soaking as we get those rains,” said Silva.
With only a few storms under our belt this year, January and February have been one of the driest ever.
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“We farm a hundred acres of walnuts,” said Silva.
Those hundred acres have seen nothing but blue sky for a while now.
If Silva doesn’t see some rain soon, he’ll have to rely on early and extra irrigation to wet his walnut trees.
“Instead of four or five irrigations or six in here we might go through in a year, we might be up on 8 or 9 irrigation on this,” said Silva of watering his crops.
That can add up to thousands of dollars in extra costs for farmers. Last year Silva started his irrigation in June, but thinks he now might have to start in April. Without the rain, those extra irrigation costs can be passed down to the shopper too.
It’s too early to tell if that will happen, but many like Silva are waiting for the March miracle to bring those last chances of rain before the dry season.
“If we are standing here and it’s this dry again, it’s the middle of April and you’re talking to me, I might have a bit of a concern,” Silva said.
However, the other worry for farmers is too much rain in March, which can cause fungal problems for crops.