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Farmers enjoy rain, brace for more

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Standing water collects around orchards throughout Madera County after recent rains.


More than a half-inch of rain fell during Tuesday’s storms, but more than in inch is predicted for the upcoming storm.

With the rain, Madera county farmers are rejoicing for the amount of water being put into the ground.

“The water has been fantastic,” said Nick Davis of Davis Vineyards and former Madera county Farm Bureau Board President. “It’s been necessary and appreciated this year. It’s a little warmer system, but a little less snowpack than we desired. We have more rain coming. The more rain, the better.”

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch that will be in effect Friday morning through late Saturday night.

Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas. Low-water crossings may be flooded. Storm drains and ditches may become clogged with debris. Extensive street flooding and flooding of creeks and rivers are possible. Area creeks and streams are running high and could flood with more heavy rain.

According to the National Weather Service, Friday’s storm will bring a quarter of an inch during the day and up to a half-inch Friday night.

Rain will continue Saturday morning with showers and possible thunderstorms. There is a 100 percent chance of rain with up to three-quarters of an inch of rain expected. Saturday night will let up a little with as much as a half-inch of rain.

New Year’s Day should ease up on the rain, but more is predicted for Monday with a 60 percent chance with less than 1/10 of an inch and up to a quarter inch Monday night.

The storm will continue Tuesday and Wednesday with up to a half-inch each day.

“In the short term, we’re unable to continue our farming practices because the ground is too wet,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, we have to send home our guys, which is challenging this time of year. If they don’t work, they don’t make money. We feel bad about that. We want to give them more work, but the conditions don’t allow it.”

Tuesday’s storm didn’t have too much wind, which makes things a little less stressful for farmers.

“There was less damage control for this storm,” Davis said. “We’re grateful for the rain and not worried about going into the field to pick up trees, rehabilitate the ground, fix the roof or other things. It’s a nice storm, in that regards.”

Davis said farmers are in kind of a dormant part of the season. They are just preparing to get their crops ready to blossom so this rain comes at a great time.

“This is the best time of the year to work on harvesting equipment since it’s a non-emergency-like environment,” he said. “If you have big equipment fixes during harvest, you’re in trouble. We’re taking the opportunity now in the winter time to work on the equipment.”

The concern for Davis during the upcoming week of storms is the care of his employees.

“It’s hard for the farm workers because they are getting a week off, which is 25 percent of their month’s pay,” he said. “We all spend more money in December. It’s really challenging. We started giving holiday pay to our guys for the first time. We gave them Christmas Eve and Christmas, which is something we’ve never done in 45 years. It’s pretty cool for our small family business to do. That helps, but it doesn’t make it up.”

Once the rain lets up and the ground dries up, Davis will resume pruning the grape vines and begin working with the almonds.

“We will hop back on field work with vineyard pruning pretty aggressively,” he said. “We want to get it done by February 15. That helps us get an even bud break in spring time for wine grapes. For almonds, there will be a little herbicide spray and some pruning. There will be some vineyard discing. We will be work on equipment and preparing them for harvest.”

Despite some of the negatives to the storm, Davis is happy for the rain and enjoys every bit of it.

“In the big picture, the rain is fantastic. All the water is good,” Davis said.h

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