March storms replenish reservoirs

Early March storms brought much-needed relief for North Coast growers, who were concerned about irrigation pond water supplies for frost protection.

“We’re below normal, but still most areas have received more than 15 to 20 inches,” says Nick Frey, president of Sonoma Winegrowers Commission. “The key will be future rains, bud break, and the potential length of the frost season.

“It appears bud break will begin the third week of March and extend over the next two weeks at least. That is near normal. If it remains unseasonably warm, we should be okay. If we have repeated frosts and no rain, some reservoirs could be depleted.”

Glenn McGourty, Mendocino County farm advisor, says, “We’re about 70 percent of normal precipitation. The Ukiah Valley has received about 18 to 19 inches so far. We’re a little worried about reserves for frost protection, even though March has been fairly warm.

“It’s been my experience over the years that when the weather turns warm in March, things will start popping and then, boom, we’ll get hammered in April with some cold weather. If the weather doesn’t turn too bad during the next few weeks, I think growers will have enough water reserves in the reservoirs to squeak by.”

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