February storms provide relief

The series of February Pacific storms did not end California’ three-year drought. Nevertheless, it was more than welcome to California grape growers.

“The soil had gotten so dry that some growers were beginning to irrigate in the middle of winter,” says Mark Chandler, executive director, Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission, Lodi, Calif. “As of Feb. 23, we have had about 11 inches of seasonal rainfall, about 75 percent of normal. We still have a ways to go. Looks like the next 10 days will continue to be wet. So far, the pattern has been very beneficial with a series of moderate storms, allowing the soil to absorb the water with not too much runoff. We are also accumulating snow in the Sierras, but are well below normal.”

Nevertheless, water for irrigation in the season ahead is still a major concern.

Overall, grape growers are fairly optimistic about the season ahead. Growers are finishing up pruning with bud break about a month away in most areas.

Bill Thompson, PCA, Four Seasons Ag Consulting, Livingston, Calif., “The vines are still dormant. Some of the wood that has been pruned looks good. Price is key, and the market is looking better.”

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