Valley farmers assess impacts of recent storms

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Storm activity has been bittersweet for Valley farmers.

In some cases, hail has damaged crops, making them unusable, while snow and rainfall are helping Central California recover from a water deficit.

Eric Engelman inspected his almonds in Fresno County after the recent back-to-back storms brought heavy rain and even quarter-sized hail to parts of the Valley. For foothill communities like Coarsegold, they even brough snowfall.

"The scariest thing right now is hail... if that hail hits here, it snaps the whole blossom," he says.

It's a detrimental part of the almond growing process to experience hail. Any damage that was done won't be known until closer to harvest.

For Engelman, storms like this bring mixed emotions

"We really want the water right now, we really want that snowpack. We are really concerned about what are irrigation deliveries are going to be," he says.

Ryan Jacobsen from the Fresno County Farm Bureau says he saw the worst hail in 10 years at his almond orchard in Easton.

It was a potential big hit to his crop. Still, he says recent storms have done more good than harm.

"By far, they have been much more beneficial. We are in such dire straits when it comes to what we have in the Sierra Nevada as far as our snowpack this year," he says.

Jacobsen says as of now, water levels are far below normal

"We are looking at - in our local Kings River Water Shed - somewhere in the 35-40 percent of average for our April 1st and that's coming up very quickly," he says.

This year's wet season has been relatively dry.

"It only added 2.5% to our local watershed and so even with these storms coming in, we are still in a big deficit. But it really does help get us in better shape," he says.

Water experts say that for California to reach its average snowpack for the season, the state would need a total of 9 to 11 inches of rain this month.
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