March 14, 1995 in Nation/World

Crops A Major Casualty Of California Rainstorms

San Francisco Chronicle

Storms sweeping through Northern California have dealt a savage blow to California farmers, whose crop losses have mounted into the hundreds of millions of dollars - a cost that will hit consumers in the form of higher prices, especially for lettuce, artichokes and strawberries.

Most of the major crops have been affected, from flooded vineyards to washed-out vegetable fields to windravaged orchards.

“I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve never seen this much water,” said Cecil Deloach, owner of Deloach Vineyards in Sonoma County.

The toll is likely to increase. Not only are farmers still assessing the damage and bracing for more rain, but the longer-term effects of the nasty weather have yet to be tallied.

Agriculture experts say that because bees have stopped pollinating, the yields on tree fruits from peaches to cherries are likely to be sharply reduced. Orchards and vines will be more susceptible to a variety of rot that proliferates in the damp weather. And many crops just will not get planted because fields are too wet for tractors and other machinery.

In the nation’s salad bowl, the Salinas Valley, virtually every type of produce in the ground has suffered, from iceberg and leaf lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower to artichokes and cabbage.

Near Castroville, much of the annual $39 million artichoke crop is ruined, and as many as 600 acres of strawberries are flooded near Watsonville.

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