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Central Valley farmers adjusting to drought

HURON  June 23, 2008  Central Valley Business Times

• Ground water pumping into irrigation canals begins

• Lettuce crop may not happen

Westlands Water District, which covers a vast expanse of the west side of the Central Valley in Fresno and Kings counties, has been given permission to pump a small amount of ground water into irrigation canals.

However, the additional one-tenth of an acre-foot isn't expected to have a big impact on crop production. Approximately 10,000 acres of cotton and several thousand additional acres of tomatoes have been abandoned in the district so far this summer.

The new water will help keep permanent crops alive, the district says.

The normal hot weather is destroying unwatered plants.

Huron-area farmers in Fresno County have abandoned plans to plant lettuce and other vegetables for this fall because they will not have enough water to produce a crop.

Typically, the Huron area provides the nation's vegetable supply between harvest in Salinas on the Central Coast and the Imperial Valley along the Mexican border.

It isn't clear which of the remaining regions could provide vegetables in November.

Prices for some fresh vegetables may go up because of shorter than normal supplies. Farmers in Michigan say too much rain has damaged their celery crop and vegetable growers in other Midwest states report similar problems.

The flooding in Iowa and Missouri has destroyed as much as five million acres of newly planted crops. This includes about 20 percent of Iowa’s soybean crop.

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