Friday, March 27, 2015

Balmy weather fuels field work, drought worries

Today I took a road trip to get pictures of rice planting preparations in the Willows area and of the drought-depleted Sacramento River at the Tehama Colusa Canal Authority's pumping station in Red Bluff. The field work was being performed by worker Chuck Pentz in the first two photos and grower Russel Maben in the third.

Despite media reports that some rice growers plan to sell their water to Los Angeles rather than plant a crop, the folks I've talked to said they intend to plant rice this spring. Growers in the settlement-contractor districts expect to get about 75 percent of their normal allotments, which is what they got last year. A clearer picture should emerge next week when 1) the National Agricultural Statistics Service in Sacramento comes out with its plantings report, which should happen Tuesday, and 2) the state Department of Water Resources does its next manual snow survey on Wednesday. April 1 is considered the pinnacle in terms of the snowpack season, but this year's meager results could leave farmers who depend on the runoff feeling like April fools.

Watch for our coverage next week at CapitalPress.com.

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