Local Farmers Turning To Irrigation Following Record Dry Conditions

Normally this time of year many farmers rely on adequate rain

MORGAN HILL, Calif. - Local farmers said they could have problems just bringing in a crop after the driest winter on record has been plaguing the state of California.

Normally this time of year many farmers rely on adequate rain. But because of the lack of rain, many of them are turning to irrigation in order to save their crops.

"This is the third time we've irrigated since November," said Andy Mariani, grower with Andy's Orchard in Morgan Hill.

So dry Mariani is forced to bring in his own water.

Several different stone fruits are grown here, including cherries, apricots and peaches, and time is ticking for the summer harvest. Mariani is trying to keep the trees well-irrigated so the roots become active and the trees blossom. But with just a few drops of rain in the past few months, he said: "We could have problems just bringing in a crop. We need water to go through harvest to make sure the fruit develops properly."

Mariani isn't alone. The livelihood of farmers across the state is threatened by the dry conditions, with no relief in sight.

And things could get worse from here.

"We're fearful that the trees can be confused. They can bloom early, perhaps with subsequent frost that can ruin the crop or subsequent rains. Nothing seems to be normal this year," Mariani said.

Like many farmers, Mariani also fears there could be water rationing in the future and a cutoff of irrigation water.

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