Valley farmers preparing for drought conditions to worsen

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hunter Farms in Atwater is bracing for a second straight year of drought.

Scott Hunter grows almonds and pistachios but won't plant as many pumpkins this time around.

"You know, I'm probably not going to this year because of the situation with the water," he said.

Hunter hopes his surface water deliveries will be enough to keep the crops going.

During the last extended drought, he had to pump groundwater as deliveries started to dry up.

Scott is frustrated by the state's inability to establish a stable water system for farmers and communities.

"When you have groups that want to tear down dams and groups that want to build dams, it's hard to find middle ground," he said. "As long as this state can't solve this problem, we're going to continue to have this ebb and flow of water and no water years."

The National Weather Service in Hanford expects our drought conditions to worsen into the summer following one of the driest seasons on record in the sierra.

"We had a very dry winter," says NWS Meteorologist Kevin Durfee. "On one hand, I can count the number of storms we've had since October."

Durfee says we can expect above-normal temperatures over the next 60-90 days, which will cause heavy snowmelt.

But another worrisome factor is the rapid drying of trees and brush in areas susceptible to wildfire.

"It's much worse as you go into the higher elevations and that's where we're really, primarily, concerned," he said. "The foothills and higher elevations in the Sierra, we're looking at fuel moistures which are at June levels."

Gov. Newsom last week declared drought emergencies in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. More can be added.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has designated 50 of California's 58 counties as drought disaster areas.

Durfee figures we'd need 10 more storms just to get to a normal year.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.