Rains cause delays for Citrus harvest

TULARE COUNTY, Calif.

Water overflowing from Merton Creek in Tulare County east of Exeter has flooded several orange orchards. The water has rushed over roads, flooded a tractor business, and has kept oranges from being picked and sent off to packing houses.

Charlie Mills of Sequoia Orange says a few days are needed before harvest can resume.

"The fruit is still a little bit wet but it's drying out," said Mills, "We can't get the fruit to market in a timely manner like we want. The biggest problem is just the saturation of the rind and the fruit needing to dry out."

You can still see water on many oranges. What sounds like flood irrigation is actually floodwater filling up the grove.

While many are anxious to get back to work, these oranges won't be touched until the ground dries out.

"It's hard for the people to work with wet trees and wet feet on the people and ladders and you have accidents and problems," said farm manager Glenn Weerheim.

Weerheim doesn't mind watching all this water give these orchards a good soaking. "We need the water. We need the underground."

"We're not happy that this water is coming down this fast this much but hey what can we do?"

All they can do is wait. Several other valley citrus growers reported flooding problems in their orchards as well.

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