Valley farmers are thankful for rain

FRESNO, Calif.

Kerman almond grower, Paul Betancourt is hoping for rain but is anxious about the late start of the rainy season. His almond trees are blooming early because of this year's warmer than normal temperatures.

Betancourt is afraid the recent rain may hurt his trees. He says, "We need sunny, calm weather during almond bloom. So for the next three weeks, we'd like it to be sunny and calm so the bees can fly, all the flowers get pollinated and nothing rots and falls off. He says, ideally the Valley would have seen more rain in December. The Westlands Water District supplies agricultural water to the western parts of Fresno and Kings Counties. District officials say so far, this is the second driest season on record.

Ryan Jacobsen with the Fresno County Farm Bureau says the parched weather will hurt growers. Jacobsen says, "Central Valley agriculture is very dependent on surface irrigation and unfortunately when you have years like this year, it's going to make it much more difficult." Jacobsen says farmers may have to turn to wells this year.

Experts say they'll have a better idea at the end of March whether the Valley will experience a drought this year or just a drier season.

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