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Power outages affect farmers harvest

Farmers spend 12 hours a day for a month harvesting their crop before the rainy season - but this season they faced a new challenge.

Posted: Oct 11, 2019 5:35 PM

BIGGS, Calif. - Farmers spend 12 hours a day for a month harvesting their crop before the rainy season - but this season they faced a new challenge.

“I bet there's 25% of the crop at least still out there,” Sligar said.

Rice farmer Matthew Sligar said looking around Butte County there's more harvesting needed to be done.

“Well that means those boys need to start cutting and cutting fast,” Sligar said. “Luckily we've got some warm weeks warm weather - this north wind has helped out quite a bit."

But what hasn't helped was the recent PG&E power shutoffs.

“You see the rice needs to be dried down to storage moisture and that's what happens at the drier and if they can't dry the rice then we can't harvest the rice,” he said.

Sligar told Action News Now that can put a damper on the entire harvest operation.

“Imagine large heating columns that the rice moves up and down and it's blowing hot air on the rice drying that of course runs of electricity and when they can’t use those drying columns they cannot move the rice out into storage and accept new rice,” Sligar said.

On a typical day of harvest, Sligar said they cut about 80 acres of rice.
To give you an idea of how much that is that's about 80 football fields. And from that, they produce 9,500 pounds of rice per acre.

Sligar said the time frame to harvest was already short because of the late rains from April into May - which delayed their planting.

“We planted late the rice still has the same life cycle so it's well into October now and we're trying to get this harvested as fast as possible before the fall rains start to come down because we cannot harvest the rice when it's raining,” he said.

But Sligar said not to worry - there shouldn't be a problem for consumers.

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We're closing out the month of November in a pleasant way in northern California Tuesday. We'll have some gusty wind tonight and early Wednesday, but December will begin with warmer and drier than average weather.
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