Drought effects minimal for now, growers say

06/20/2014 10:38:00 AM
Tom Burfield

“You hope that it holds out. Right now, it’s holding out for us.”

Growers are trying not to waste water and to get by using as little as possible, said Steve Couture, partner in Couture Farms, Huron, Calif.

As a result, he expects to see reduced bloom this season and a smaller number of melons per plant, though he said both those conditions also could be affected by other climatic conditions, as well.

V.H. Azhderian & Co. Inc., Los Banos, Calif., is seeing slightly less outside grower acreage because of the drought, but general manager Berj Moosekian has not seen any major changes because of water shortages.

In some cases, he has been able to trade water from areas with ample supplies to other areas that are facing shortages.

“Nobody has tremendous supplies that I’m aware of,” he said.

All growers seem very concerned about next season if the state suffers another dry year.

“People have been preparing for these zero-water years, and they can deal with it,” Patrichio said. “But if the drought continues, next year will be a whole other problem.”

Smith agreed.

“We have enough water to maintain the same program this year,” he said. “Next year could be tough if it doesn’t rain.”

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