Rain Worries Local Growers

October 3, 2008 6:32:43 PM PDT
The threat of rain has many local growers worried. Rain can cause mildew and mold in vegetables. Some almonds are still on the ground. Raisins are especially susceptible.It is a race against time. Workers are rolling up the raisins before the rains come. This scene is repeated all around the valley.

David Sarabian has 500 acres of raisins. His crew actually began rolling the raisins three weeks ago before rain was even forecast. Sarabian said "we started rolling to protect them from the rain. It's cheap insurance. The cost of rolling is a lot cheaper than losing the raisins and the value of the raisins."

The raisins are laid at a slight angle so the rain beads up and rolls off. Sarabian said "the paper has a plastic coat on the bottom side of the paper and that's to keep the moisture from the ground coming back up and to keep the rain that will be coming on top."

The raisins will be unwrapped after the storm, when conditions dry out. Table grape growers are also taking precautions. This vineyard was covered with tarps to keep the precious crop dry. Water-logged grapes can rot on the vine. Sarabian said "they put plastic over the top just to keep the water from getting into the berries. During this time of year, I was at the supply house yesterday where they sell the plastic and they couldn't keep up with the plastic. They said everybody was coming in buying plastic for their table grapes."

All to protect Fresno County's number-one crop. Grape production was worth 613-million dollars last year.

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