Southern California farmers struggling to recover from drought

The Southern California water year, which began Oct. 1, has been below average so far, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which said southern Santa Barbara, Ventura, southern Kern and northwestern Los Angeles counties remain in a state of severe drought.

“We are getting some rain,” Doty said. “We’re tracking right on the average annual year-to-date figures, but we have not had anywhere near enough to recover from the drought.”

“We get little showers going through here,” Munz said. “I was just looking today, and I’m going, ‘Boy, L.A.’s had over an inch of rain, and I’ve only had 20 hundredths.'”

The drought was so bad he even said some farmers are eliminating low producing trees to conserve water.

“The guy beside me has stumped 50 or 60 percent of his avocado acreage,” Doty said. “It has hurt, and it’s going to keep hurting until we get back into some sort of a better supply/storage system.”

In Los Angeles County, Munz was watching the weather reports and weighing his planting decisions. As a dryland farmer, he uses no irrigation—only whatever water falls from the sky.

Munz said he hoped to have his crop in the ground by the end of January.

“I got a pretty good storm right before Christmas, but then I’ve been having all these little storms that have been keeping me out of the field,” he said. “I really don’t like to work my ground too wet. Then the weeds just keep on growing in it.”

Munz said his area averages 12 inches of rain per year, and as of late last week had received 4. “I haven’t had more than 7 inches of rain here for five years,” he said.


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