Growers ‘dancing in their orchards’ - maybe not just yet

Growers ‘dancing in their orchards’ - maybe not just yet

I sometimes wonder about the accuracy of the weather forecasts from meteorologists. I checked with Internet god ‘Mr. Google’ and couldn’t derive much information on forecasting accuracy.

Yet to their credit, meteorologists have been mostly ‘spot on’ so far this winter in California and Arizona with accurate predictions of El Nino-tied rain and snow with a heavy smattering of cold temperatures.

Certainly, the western drought is far from over, yet Mother Nature has certainly delivered much more liquid and frozen manna this winter compared to last winter.

In fact, some California pistachio growers may be dancing in their orchards these days tied to wetter and cooler conditions, especially since some growers lost a hefty portion of their 2015 yields due to drought, low chilling hours last winter, and other factors. Ouch!

Too many other growers have lost much as well.

This editor’s late January drive along the Colusa-Yolo county line near Arbuckle, Calif. included a sight for sore eyes – saturated soils in young-to-mature almond orchards. Getting out of the car required a ‘boot check’ – a.k.a kicking the water in large puddles creating a ‘splashingly good time.’

Once a kid - always a kid.

An early February media-oriented manual snow survey by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) at the Phillips snow course located 90 miles east of Sacramento confirmed “markedly improved” rain and snow fall this winter compared to last, with ‘significant increases in major state reservoirs since Jan. 1.’

If melted, the onsite Phillips snow measurement would equate to more than 25 inches of water. Last year, a measly equivalent of 2.5 inches of water was found at the same site.

Meteorologists now predict the current El Nino pattern could stick around into May which would be a blessing and a curse, possibly delaying row crop plantings and other spring field work.

Yet I am reminded of my earlier days as a youngster growing up in a Baptist church in the South. One of my favorite hymns included the words, “Count your many blessings – name them one by one.”

Today we are all blessed many times over. Farmers and ranchers are certainly thankful for this respite from drought with a hope that more rain and snow 'manna' will fall from the heavens and with fingers crossed a moderate amount at a time.

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