Some growers anxiously wait for more rain

FRESNO & MADERA COUNTIES, Calif.

Flowers on Rick Cosyns almond trees in Madera County have started blossoming early this year. "Right now our weather forecast looks fairly conducive to a good bloom. Of course that could change on a daily basis but at this time the rains we've had have not hampered our pollination," said Rock Cosyns.

The early bloom has kept bees busy buzzing around the orchard in large part to warmer temperatures this winter. But recent rain has caused some concern for growers. "We'd like a dry period during bloom. We'd certainly don't want to see any hail that would knock the blossoms off," said Cosyns.

The storm that swept through the Valley early Wednesday morning wasn't strong enough to cause significant damage but it did knock down some blossoms to the ground. Still, farmers say they will take all the rain they can get to make up for the last three months. Growers don't normally start pumping water until sometime in March but because of the lack of rain, many have already started running their irrigation system.

"We've got about half the precipitation this year than a normal year, so we're going to have presumably less surface water from our snow pack as it melts this summer," said David Zoldoske, director of the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State. He says as growers fall back on their watering system, their water bills will rise. "It cost money and farming is a business like anything else and when expenses go up, profits go down," said Zoldoske.

And as growers anxiously wait for more rain to fall on their soil, bees will continue to work just as long as the skies are clear.

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