Valley farmers happy to see rain arrive at last

The Fresno BeeFebruary 26, 2014 

JRW RAIN

Cruz Avila crosses Tuolumne Street past the Warnors Theater on his way to a business luncheon in a light shower, Wednesday afternoon, February 26, 2014.

JOHN WALKER — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

Some areas in the Valley could see up to an inch of rain by the end of the weekend, pleasing many Valley farmers.

Meteorologist Jim Andersen at the National Weather Service in Hanford said areas with the heaviest rain could get as much as 1 inch.

Fresno received more than one-half inch overnight and this morning, the weather service reported. Other totals: 0.42 of an inch in Madera, 0.57 in Merced and 0.30 in Hanford.

It is not uncommon to see a storm like this at this time of year, said Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

The rain will continue Thursday until Saturday and ease off by Sunday, Andersen said. In the mountains, elevations above 6,000 feet will get anywhere from 18 to 36 inches of snow.

Organic growers have more of a challenge because the fungicides aren't as effective as synthetic ones, said Ted Loewen, owner of Blossom Bluff Orchards in Parlier.

But "rain trumps it all right now," Loewen said.

Jacobsen said farmers aren't worried about major fruit damage but have taken precautions, including applying fungicides to blooms to prevent rot and mold.

"If there was any damage from the rain right now, it could show up in months," Jacobsen said. "The key ingredient is how long it hangs around and what happens after."

The best circumstances would be sunny weather with a breeze to dry out the fruit, he said.

And the Valley will see just that.

After the rain clears, temperatures will climb from the low 60s to 67 degrees on Monday and above-average temperatures next week, Andersen said.

Grassland farmers will be the biggest beneficiaries of the storm, Jacobsen said, and farmers growing peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries and almonds are the most susceptible to the storm's effects.

"This is just mother nature helping to irrigate," Jacobsen said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or bvaccari@fresnobee.com.

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