Almond growers hope for break in storms to protect blooms

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A year's worth of work comes down to the weather in the next few weeks - and the forecast literally looks gloomy.

It's the time of year when almond growers start losing sleep.

"I hate it when almonds bloom this early. My son's birthday is at the end of February; I like it when it blooms then," said almond grower Paul Betancourt.

A year's worth of work comes down to the weather in the next few weeks - and the forecast literally looks gloomy.

"We've had the frost, so that can affect the blooms, we've got rain that promotes mold and mildew," Betancourt said.

The storms themselves are good news.

But too many bunched close together can cause problems if the crop can't dry off.

More importantly, bees can't pollinate.

"We really want to see those days when it's low 60s, really low winds, you are going to see the bees really take off at that time," said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

The further along the blossom is, the more susceptible it is to the cold.

For many growers in the Valley, 10-percent of their orchards are in bloom.

"Almonds are extraordinarily important not just to the Central Valley, but for the San Joaquin Valley and California. Here in Fresno County, it's our number 1 crop and our only billion dollar crop," Jacobsen said.

Even in one of the most fertile Valleys in the world, no harvest is guaranteed.
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