By Angela Musallam

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — Farmers around the Sacramento region are praying the upcoming storm will bring heavy rain.

It’s been a mostly dry winter, and it’s making some farmers nervous about their crops.

“It’s really dry for December; usually it’s mud, there’s not a lot of moisture left.”

No rain has Mike Wackman worried about his vineyard in Elk Grove, a family-run business for the last five generations.

“We really need this rain to come because it’s been so dry this year, the vines are really starting to think, ‘Are we gonna get rain? Are we gonna get water this year?’” questioned Wackman.

But the dry winter is a blessing in disguise. Wackman is getting a head-start on pruning his vines; usually, that work begins in February.

“This year, we started earlier on our pruning, and we’re about 80 percent done with our pruning,” Wackman added.

Wackman is a month ahead of schedule and now, just needs mother nature to do her part.

“If we don’t get significant rain here in the next to three weeks, probably we will start to turn on the drip system and irrigate the vines,” Wackman said.

Irrigating vines doesn’t start until May or June, but with light rainfall expected in January, manmade rain is the only way to go.

Without it, “the vines become weaker because they are being stressed and they become more susceptible to disease and pests,” said Wackman.

“We can always get a lot of rain and snow in February and March, it’s happened before, and we are hoping it might happen again,” said Bill Bird, Executive Director of the Sacramento County Farm Bureau.

Bird says farmers like Wackman have aired out their concerns over the lack of rain, prompting some to begin irrigating their crops early for fear of producing a lower crop yield.

“We can go through a dry year or two, but if you start talking about another dry, extended drought for three, four, five years, then you’re gonna see pressures on the agricultural community,” Bird added.

Wackman was prosperous in his yield last year, thanks to an above-average wet season. This year, he’s praying for the magic word:

“Rain! Of course, we are waiting for rain!”

While the rain is welcomed in the agricultural community, farmers say they still need a heavy dose of rain through spring to keep them on track.


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