Valley farmers long for warmer temperatures

FRESNO, Calif.

No major damage has been reported. But farmers said the longer it stays cold and damp the worse it gets for their crops. They want a return to at least the mid-80's.

Several almond trees were knocked over by heavy winds after the soil was saturated with water. The trees carried a heavy nut crop.

Fresno County Deputy Ag Commissioner Fred Rinder said most of the toppled trees were on the outer perimeter of almond orchards. Rinder said, "And then the real heavy winds may knock some of the remaining nuts off and there could be some damage there."

Chilly weather is also keeping some valley grown peaches from maturing and building sugar content. Rinder explained, "As we progress now to June and July and the weather starts warming up you'll start see that ripening process accelerate."

Threatening clouds hovered over Sue Hooker's cherry orchard in the Fresno county foothills. The trees are full of sweet, deeply colored cherries. Rain is the last thing Sue wants to see at her road-side stand. She said of the rain, "If it sits on them long enough, if a breeze the wind doesn't blow off the dampness then they can split open when they're this ripe."

Cherry season doesn't last long, often times just a few weeks. The harvest is now coming to an end in the Valley. Some grocers in the Bay Area worry about cherry availability and prices. But at Mountain Brook Ranch Sue Hooker said visitors can pick their own cherries for $1.85 a pound. Hooker expected this weekend to be the last for families to pick their own cherries so she wants the rain to stay away.

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