Westside Farmer Not Optimistic About 2014 - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Westside Farmer Not Optimistic About 2014

Posted:
Western Fresno County -

Thousands of acres farm land producing crops on the Valley's Westside this year may go dormant in 2014.   Hammonds Farms in western Fresno County is growing cotton right now and the tomato crop was just harvested.   But if the federal water allocation for 2014 doesn't improve Mike Stearns says they will fallow up to one third of their property.

"They're talking about a zero allocation to start with next spring and if that should be the case and we end up with a ten percent or less we're fallowing probably 2–thousand acres or more."

Stearns who is general manager says their 46 full time employees have been warned that many could be out of a job if the water picture doesn't get better. 

The cotton crop is grown with the use of drip irrigation buried in the soil.  But it's likely there won't be cotton next year and the tomatoes grown in this rich soil won't be planted either.

Pistachios and wine grapes will be the only crop producers next year.  "The permanent crops will keep us alive for awhile because of the income returned on permanent crops is higher.   But for along period of time that's the only thing you're going to have to survive."

Fallow fields are no longer an uncommon sight in some of the best growing soil in California.  Next year if the drought continues those same fields could be producing thousands of acres of weeds. 

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