Thunderstorm catches Valley growers by surprise

FRESNO, Calif.

Lightning crackled through the air and lit up the skies overnight and into the morning hours. The loud thunder and bright flashes also made Valley farmers nervous.

Rebecca Torosian of Tory Farms said, "I could hear the rain and I thought to myself, oh God if it continued raining, we haven't even started the grapes. There goes the grapes. That's my first impression, we're done."

Rebecca and Tory Torosian run Tory Farms. They grow crops along a scenic stretch of Dinuba. Tory gave us a good look at his "Fantasy" variety grapes growing under the canopy. They are especially sweet and popular at farmers markets in Fresno and San Francisco.

Tory was relieved to see his grapes appeared to have survived the rain. He said, "A little bit of rain, even this humidity is not good. It just promotes more of these funguses and molds."

At this time of year the drier the better, especially for this thin-skinned variety. Tory explained, "If we had big rain last night, by Thursday this place would smell like vinegar on a salad. Even a heavy rain will wash dirt off the canopy and get the grapes dirty. They're clean looking right now."

Crews were back out picking nectarines on Monday. Rain can cause cosmetic problems in the fruit but the rapid warm up helped minimize the damage. Rebecca said, "It dried off pretty good. I was really worried it was going to linger on."

Tory Farms survived the overnight storm but more trouble could be brewing in the skies.

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