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Drought conditions are hurting California growers already

While the harvest season is still months away, growers in California’s Sutter and Yuba counties say they expect a disastrous crop because of the drought conditions.

Sutter County grower Sarb Thiara fears that his walnut orchard is a sign of bad things ahead. The trees have not been watered in several months after a well pump broke down. The drought has dried out the soil, so peach, prune, almond, pecan and walnut trees need even more water than usual.

“We’re running the pumps more, the electric bills are higher, pumps are pumping from deep and pumps are drying up,” Thiara told

There are plenty of orchards in the area that look healthy, but appearances can be deceiving. Orchards need 3 feet of water a season. During this drought, they may need 4 feet of water when there is none to spare. Walnut trees will see a lot less production because of the lack of water.

The quality of fruits like peaches, plums and prunes is expected to be way down as well, hurting the bottom line for growers. There has not been a significant heat wave yet this early in the year.

Orchard crops are the biggest part of Sutter County’s agriculture economy. There are more troubles ahead come this winter because young trees are vulnerable to frost if there is not enough water in the ground.

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