Farmers and ranchers are bracing for a tough year of potential water cutbacks. Most will be forced to fallow ground as we enter into what many are calling the worst drought in nearly four decades. Most reservoirs are at less than 50 percent of capacity and annual runoff is expected to be poor.
Inflow into Shasta and Oroville is expected to be dismal, which worries farmers and ranchers in Northern California who are expecting water cutbacks north of the San Joaquin River Delta. An emergency drought declaration is expected in February to help facilitate water transfers, but water restrictions are already being set into place.
Being hit the hardest is the San Joaquin Valley. Row crop ground in the San Joaquin Valley is already being fallowed. “We knew that we had to supply water to our permanent crops… the almonds, pistachios and asparagus,” according to Steve Ozuna from Harris Ranch.
Harris Farms normally plants 1500 acres of lettuce in the spring and 1500 in the fall. This year’s drought is going to make things increasingly worse. “We have roughly 10-thousand acres of open ground and out of the 10-thousand were gonna be farming roughly 500 acres”, said Ozuna.
At this point with little precipitation in the forecast farmers and ranchers are at the mercy of Mother Nature. We need to hope for a March miracle to assure enough water to grow the food that feeds our nation.