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Tight Water Supplies Hurt San Diego County Growers

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

The recent heat wave put San Diego County farmers in a management quandary about irrigation water.  A cooling trend now underway helps, but growers are already making tough choices about their crops.  KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce explains.

San Diego County growers are feeling the pinch of water cutbacks and a warm spring.

The recent hot spell caused farmers to use more water for irrigation.

Eric Larson is the Executive Director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

He says because avocado plants need a lot of water, growers are cutting back their groves.
Larson: And anyone driving around North County now can start to see that happening. They see these stumps of the trees up in the air painted white, looking kind of like coral coming out of the sides of the hills. Those are the trees that have been stumped and taken out of production.
He says farmers are figuring out just how much water to use now to nurture their crops, and yet save enough for later in the summer.

Larson says if voluntary water conservation efforts in the county's urban areas are not successful, farmers will pay the price.
Larson: That's when we're going to see some real economic damage and some farmers maybe making decisions about how they're going to continue their business.
Larson says county citrus growers may have to pull trees out and nursery growers may plant fewer plants if water supplies dry up because of drought or more cutbacks.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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