Farmers' crops and cattle impacted by wet weather and heavy rain

Kassandra Gutierrez Image
Friday, January 13, 2023
Farmers' crops and cattle impacted by wet weather and heavy rain
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The rain has been a welcomed sight for farmers across Central California.

The rain has been a welcomed sight for farmers across Central California.

In Tulare County, one farmer says although the rain is mostly good, there are some challenges for the cows and for the crops.

Tom Barcellos is a third generation dairy farmer and operator of his family farm.

The farm has been in Tulare County's Tipton area since 1944.

The rain and cool temperatures hitting California has been mostly positive for the farm.

Tom says in cooler weather- components such as protein and butter fat in a cow's milk are higher.

However, the water run-off and wet grounds can increase the risk for low grade infections in cows.

"They like to lay down in the sun but that could stick to their udder and create mastitis, nothing really serious, but it's something you have to watch out for," explains Tom.

The rain is good news for the cow feed acres on the farm.

He remembers not being able to grow as much feed in recent drought years.

Tom mentions, "It's supply and demand. If you can't grow enough you have to go buy it someplace else and somebody else can't grow enough you have to go buy it someplace else, and you are competing for that same feed that is miles away."

Tom is also a citrus farmer- he says for the last two weeks it's been too wet and muddy to work in the fields.

Although some farm work does continue during dry days, for Tom, about 30% of his lemon crops will remain on the trees until conditions in his field are dry enough.

"You have the farmworkers that aren't working, you have the packing plants, you don't have people working in the plants, you don't have the trucks moving the fruit. You have a whole spectrum of people not working right now because of these rains but the blessing will come later," Tom continues. "The rain is always a blessing when it's timely and in the right amounts. We have a little more than anticipated but it's a bigger blessing because we have come out of some drought years."

The blessing also being having enough crops for harvest and jobs this upcoming season.

Tom says his lemon crops may have to stay on the trees for about two more weeks.

That all depends on the weather these coming days.