“The State of California has been experiencing extreme weather this year, from spring snowstorms to flooding. While water and rain is usually welcome in the drought plagued state, these storms have brought so much water to the area, experts are expecting the years long drought to finally come to an end this summer. Eliminating drought is good, but such extreme weather change brings about challenges for the farmers and crops of the state.
Many farmers plant crops in late summer or fall for a spring harvest. According to The Sacramento Bee, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, carrots, and other crops were planted in August and were slowly being harvested as the storms began. Unfortunately, the rain and flooding caused by storms and melting snow in northern California made the fields too wet to harvest, and in some cases, destroyed the crop all together.
In other areas of California, farmers started their spring seedlings, such as tomatoes, in their greenhouses, but have been unable to move them to the fields. USA Today reports “California produces 90% of the nation's processed tomatoes” (read more…) and more than a quarter of the world's total...hasn't been able to start putting tomato starts into his fields because the ground is just too saturated.” Hoping to avoid too much of a delay and backlog at the local processing plants, farmers are going to have to adjust the variety of tomatoes they plant and the timing of harvest.
A particularly hard-hit area is Monterey county, specifically the Wastsonville and Salinas areas, where there is 360,000 farmed acres of land. One of the largest crops in this area is strawberries. Combining extreme rain levels from 11 atmospheric rivers and a levee breaking, many fields have flooded. Strawberries are a crop planted in the fall, so when the rain and flooding hit, the plants were already in the ground and growing. Right now, until the water recedes and the ground dries out enough for the farmers to enter the fields, they have no way of knowing what condition the plants will be in, or if they will even be present. (read more...)
While nothing can stop or prevent damage from the major flood and storm systems that California has seen since this year, there are some ways farmers can prepare their fields to prevent some damage from weather “norms”. Many citrus and fruit growers struggle with storm damage to their fruits caused by wind, rain, and even some hail. Utilizing fabrics such as polypropylene rain protection and hail netting can help reduce and/or block the amount of precipitation and wind that hits the fruit, thus reducing blemishes.
Acadians polypropylene rain protection fabric can be used over structures or hung like a curtain. It can be rolled out when a storm is incoming and rolled away when not needed. It provides a barrier between the fruit and the rain often propelled by the wind, slowing down the drops of water and reducing the damage to the fruit. Hail netting works in a similar way by laying above crops, usually installed on a structure or hoop house, preventing hail stones from hitting crops.
In addition, using ground cover fabric (add hyperlink) prevents soil erosion around crops during the spring’s wet months. It can also help lock in moisture around the roots of plants during times of drought. In both cases, the ground cover fabric can help improve crop yield.
Additional information can be found in the following articles...