Winter Weather Hit Almond Growers Hard

December 22, 2008 2:08:34 PM PST
Valley farmers are always at the mercy of the elements.The recent storm hit almond growers especially hard.

The sound of howling winds and cracking wood was too much to stomach for almond growers in Madera. Some will now have to replace entire orchards.

Hundreds of almond trees were ripped right out of the ground laid to waste by strong winds which whipped through Madera County on Sunday.

The trees stood in ground saturated by heavy rain over the weekend. Then the winds kicked up.

Rick Cosyns, Madera Almond Grower: "The winds were estimated to be 50-70 mile an hour gusts and so this is the damage that we've sustained in this older block of trees."

Cosyns estimates the loss to this older orchard full of 24-year old trees at about $70-thousand dollars.

The scenes of devastation were repeated in a number of other area orchards.

As you can see entire rows have been toppled.

Mark Van Klaveren, Madera Almond Grower: "I've been farming out in this area for twenty years and I've never seen a windstorm like that come through here with as much damage as this past Sunday."

Almonds represent Madera County's number-one crop worth $225-million dollars in 2006.

After viewing the damage Rick Cosyns was forced to make painful decision.

"Abandon the orchard now and take it out at this time."

After two decades of solid almond production these trees are being cut down for firewood. Some will be taken to a co-generation plant.

All of the trees in Cosyns' oldest orchard will be replaced by one-year old trees...which won't produce a crop for two more years.

"It's just one of those things. Mother Nature giveth, Mother Nature taketh."

Madera County Ag officials have begun to assess the damage.

Cosyns believes it will be in the millions when you consider lost revenue in future years.


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