Financial fallout from last week's wet weather unclear

FRESNO, Calif.

This week's warm temperatures are a stark difference to the showers that pounded Valley crops last week. "We're gathering information as we come in contact with the growers," said Fred Rinder, with the Fresno County Agriculture Department.

Ag inspectors and farmers have been assessing the damage from Wednesday's strong hail storm that knocked fruit to the ground -- in some cases splitting it in half. It will take several weeks before Ag officials can put a dollar amount on the crop damage but some damage may not yet be visible. "Smaller hail can cause bruising and pockmarks that really don't show up until later when the fruit gets larger. So there's another time issue," said Rinder.

To qualify for federal disaster relief, 30% of a crop needs to have sustained damage.

"This is the time of the year when we do the little dance between frost and hail, and hopefully sunshine most of the time. So we are vulnerable this time of the year for these kind of weather extremes," said Dan Errotabere. The hail storm just nearly missed Dan Errotabere's ranch in Five Points. He's thankful his 5,000 acre farm was sparred but what he wants is more rain. "It's helpful but obviously it's not all my water. It doesn't satisfy all the water needs," said Errotabere.

The Department of Water Resources announced Monday it will deliver more water to farmers than previously stated thanks to recent showers. The Westlands Water District also recently received a 10 percent bump in water allocation -- from 30% to 40%. "It still is a low number. 40 percent is not anywhere close to 100% but it's more water than our growers have that they know they can depend upon," said Gayle Holman with the Westlands Water District.

The more water growers have, the more farmland they can put into production -- that's if it wasn't ruined in the storm.

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