Rain causing sloppy conditions and harvesting delays for Valley citrus growers

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Storms have made for sloppy conditions in some of the fields. (KFSN)

At the edge of the foothills east of Orosi, there are 117 acres of citrus belonging to Carlos Gutierrez. We spoke to him next to his Washington Naves, which could be being picked right now, if not for the recent rain.

Storms have made for sloppy conditions in some of the fields.

"So this is delaying us on the harvesting but overall we need the rain and it will allow the fruit to grow a little and get sweeter," Gutierrez said.

As a field rep for a packinghouse and farm labor contractor, it's Gutierrez's job to make sure the soil and the fruit itself are dry, before being handpicked. So he's holding off on the harvest now, because the messy conditions pose too great a risk for field-workers.

"Because they're up and down a ladder, they bring the mud into the ladder and they can slip and fall," he said.

The navels have at least another month before they have to be picked, but they'll be a better product by then because they'll be sweeter.

There's no doubt a delay of any kind can be concerning, but after several years of waiting for the rain they rely on, growers like Gutierrez say they'll weather these storms just fine.

"Last year we were having trouble around this area with our wells going dry and so forth," Gutierrez said. "This is promising, seeing the snowpack up in the mountains, so that's good."
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