Rain on windshield

El Niño: Better late than never

El Niño is coming! El Niño is coming!

Well, uh, maybe not.

Nope, wait! It’s back!

Like 2014 and early 2015, the rain started, and then it simply shut off, though 2016 did start and continue with more of a bang than did the previous year. Still, we’re definitely not out of the woods on this one.

Now the colorful weather maps being tweeted and shared on social media are pointing to upwards of a foot or more of rainfall equivalent in much of northern California and extending into the southern Sierra.

Let’s not count our chickens just yet.

A “Miracle March” could be just what the doctor ordered, and if it falls right, could fill California’s two major reservoirs, even though they still remain half-full at this point. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

Further from the realm of possibilities will be what the State of California does with storm runoff – if it chooses once again to let it all go to waste and flush past the Golden Gate Bridge, or if the rarely-used pumps that can move water south of the Delta are actually used for their intended purpose – to store water in San Luis Reservoir.

As far as the spring bloom goes and the dust-up to planting season for those who still grow row crops the rain will definitely help – particularly in the parched San Joaquin Valley. With almond bloom all-but-done, some are saying it could be a good year for the nut crop as some point to a good pollination and nut set.

While pistachios remain a question mark given the disaster they had last year in California I read where walnut production could come in heavy once-again, which will likely put economic pressure on that industry.

Some even think cotton production may rebound somewhat in the Golden State.

The resiliency of farmers never ceases to amaze me. If we do have a “Miracle March,” as has been tweeted about already, farmers will continue doing what they do, while our short-sighted politicians and our leaders with short-term memory problems forget how close to utter disaster we came to – and could still easily achieve if next week’s storms fail to produce.

California doesn’t merely need a new and focused policy on water to the benefit of the 40 million people and several thousand farms that make this state what it is; we need a renewed sense of focus towards agriculture and a real understanding of how commercial food production isn’t just some bucolic ideal of generations ago, but a necessity deserving of preservation, regardless the cost.

Our self-interest when it comes to agriculture needs to be foremost on the minds of everyone – from the grassroots level to our political leaders. Relying on other nations to feed us in an age of uncertain global circumstances and political strife is foolish and dangerous.

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