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» April 19, 2006 «
With planting pushed far behind schedule by consistent spring rains, California cotton farmers welcome forecasts for dry and warmer weather in the San Joaquin Valley. Farmers in the southern valley say they hope to begin planting this week. They'd prefer to have all their fields planted by April 25th, but that won't be possible. That worries farmers, because late-planted cotton often doesn't produce as much as early plantings do.
Spring storms have boosted irrigation supplies for farmers who buy water from the State Water Project. The project announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it will supply 100 percent of the water requested by its customers ... for the first time ever. The state Department of Water Resources said an "uncommon combination" of conveniently timed spring storms made the announcement possible. The state system supplies water to about 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.
The storms that dumped extra snow on the Sierra Nevada generally skipped the Great Basin states. That means that the Colorado River basin didn't share in the bountiful rainfall. The Colorado is a key water source for Southern California. Federal authorities predict runoff this year will reach about 97 percent of average. That's still an improvement along the Colorado, which is recovering from a multi-year drought.
Frost damage from late-winter cold snaps is beginning to show up in Central Valley wheat fields. The worst problems appear in fields that were planted in early autumn. Warm weather in December and January stimulated the crop, leaving it at a vulnerable stage when cold temperatures hit in February and March. Wheat growers continue to protect their crops from fungal diseases that can accompany cold, wet weather.Top