Despite rain, farmers still battling drought

Jan 29, 2014 6:08 PM

There's a saying amongst vintners that a good wine starts in the vineyard

But when growing conditions aren't ideal it's takes a lot more resources to produce a quality product. That's because North State farmers have never seen a drought as dry as this one.

“We like to see soil look like that all the way down deep,” said Berton Bertagna, owner of Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards in Chico. “And right now, if you started digging with a backhoe, you're not going to find that all the way deep. It’s going to start to get dry.”

At Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards in Chico, the drought has hit farmers’ crops and wallets.

“This is our drip tubing,” Bertagna said. “We’re out there irrigating and I never irrigate in the winter."

And while grapes are one of the hardier crops almonds, one of the area's biggest cash crops, aren't as forgiving.

“Almonds aren’t as drought tolerant as grapes,” Bertagna said. “If you have a well that goes dry you have to keep irrigating your tree or it will die.”

And the scramble to find the proper resources is both costly and worrisome

“Everybody is very stressed out right now about this and were still early in the stages,” Bertagna said. “If we don't get rain ‘til August we’re really going to be feeling it.”


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