Rain Brings Some Relief for California Agriculture

Feb 27, 2014

By Jean-Paul McDonald, Farms.com

To use the old saying “when it rains, it pours” could be appropriate for the state of California, as a storm system brought much needed rain to the parched state last night, which has been locked in an epic drought for over three years. But unlike the generally negative meaning behind that old saying, this is a good thing for the state’s agriculture industries.

The storm system brought about an inch of rain to many parts of the state Wednesday, with more rain in the forecast for Friday and continuing into Saturday. Nearly the entire state should receive a much needed soaking, with 6-8 inches of precipitation expected in the mountains, and 4-6 inches in some lower foothill regions. Central valley farmers have been desperately waiting for this much needed moisture, as their crops continue to wilt, and irrigation water becomes less available - forcing many farmers to take land out of service (currently over 200,000 hectares lay fallowed).

While the rain will bring some much needed relief to drought-stricken farmers and ranchers, it is still not enough to have any major long-term impact on the intensity of the drought situation. With many areas of Southern California dealing with wildfires and their aftermath, the loss of vegetation on hillsides could cause the heavy rain to produce mudslides and flash flooding. Thunderstorms may also develop over areas of Southern California on Saturday, bringing the potential for hail and strong winds, even the chance for tornados and waterspouts.

More rain is expected for Northern California in the first half of next week, which too, will be welcomed by the Golden State’s agricultural producers.

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