Valley Cotton Crops take a Beating from Rain

October 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
For years many farmers have been hindered by a lack of rain. This storm poses problems of a different kind for the Valley's biggest industry.Cotton just about ready to harvest got a good soaking in parts of the Valley. In some fields west of Fresno the storm couldn't have hit at a worse time. Once-tight cotton bolls are now scraggly looking as they hang from the plant. It's not a sight growers like to see.

Fresno County Deputy Ag Commissioner Tye Hafner says rain can reduce the grade of the cotton crop. "We're worried about staining in the cotton. The rain will actually, the pollutants in the water and just the dirt on the cotton lint will cause the staining of the cotton lint," said Hafner.

Growers would like to see the skies begin to clear to give the cotton a chance to dry. "If we don't get too much rain hopefully the staining won't be so very bad. The best scenario would be just a delayed harvest with no damage," said Hafner.

Growers south of Kerman protected their grapes with plastic tarps. Late varieties like red globes and crimson seedless are still on the vine.

Hafner said, "Growers with table grapes they harvest the grape late in the fall like this so they anticipate that there's going to be rain so they cover the grapes to minimize the amount of moisture that will get into the bunches because any kind of moisture that gets in there can create mildew."

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