Rain damage emerging in Valley crops

FRESNO, Calif.

The deep red color tells you the pomegranates are rapidly ripening. But Madera farmer Alex Lehman said the recent rains have caused splitting in some fruit. He explained, "You'll see this rind or skin, leathery portion right here, which is the outer skin of the pomegranate. It's absorbed some water and then it's dried and this is the result. It cracks."

Fortunately Lehman specializes in pomegranate juice sold under the Home Grown Cellars label. Otherwise he'd be stuck with a lot of damaged pomegranates. Lehman said, "If it begins cracking it's a serious issue for fresh market pomegranate grower."

Lehman also grows pumpkins. With Halloween fast approaching some jack-o-lanterns are already showing mold damage. "This is what happens when you get too much water on a pumpkin. It will start, in general terms, start rotting."

The wet weather also made valley raisins susceptible to mold problems. They need more time to dry. Some of the valley's cotton crop got a good dousing. But growers haven't reported any major damage or staining problems.

Fresno County Deputy Ag Commissioner Fred Rinder said, "I haven't seen a lot of split bolls yet but those aren't too bad. If it turns dry and we get a nice wind it will all dry out."

Rinder added some growers may have to re-apply defoliant, which dries up the leaves and causes the cotton boll to pop open.

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