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May rain threatening North State almonds

Farmers are battling fungus and surveying possible hail damage and last week's storm.

Posted: May 20, 2019 3:41 PM
Updated: May 20, 2019 5:25 PM

Butte County, Calif.-- I caught up with almond farmer Andrew Sohnrey as a plane dropped fungicide on his 1000 acres of almonds.

This is not the norm.

"It's extremely expensive; we don't want to spray unless it's something we have to do. That just means a lot more time, checking the orchards, checking individual trees," said Sohnrey.

Farmers across the North State are battling fungus after this weekend's rain.

"Do you have any idea of the added expense of spraying, the time it takes, are we talking thousands? Hundreds of thousands?" I asked.

"A lot. Hundreds of thousands," said Sohnrey.

"You don't take care of it, it could ruin your entire crop," said Sohnrey.

The fate of this year's crop and all who depend on it rests on what comes next.

"Hopefully after the rain comes cool dry weather and that will help us not have to spray so much because the humidity and the moisture are really what kicks up the disease," said Sohnrey.

With the soil saturated and the trees heavy with almonds, a windy day could be devastating.

"If you get a wind that comes in 30, 40mph, you're going to lose trees, no question."

This year's almond crop is still three months out from harvest.

The Butte County Farm Bureau says farmers are still assessing the damage from last week's hailstorm on those almonds.

in 2017 almond farmers made more than 138 million dollars. the Farm Bureau says that meant some $5.5 million in jobs and sales to the area.

With hundreds of people depending on his almond crop to make a living - Sohney says he definitely feels the pressure.

"We work our butts off to make everything as good as possible but in the end, you can't predicate mother nature, you can't control mother natures, so whatever mother nature does you just have to roll with it," said Sohnrey.

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A fire weather watch has been issued from 1pm Monday to 11am Wednesday in the Valley and foothills due to dry and gusty conditions. We'll warm up next week but next weekend is looking much much cooler and wet.
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