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California's Drought

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Post  No_Such_Reality 11/6/2016, 1:12 pm

California is a unique and special place.  For most of the population, food comes from the grocery, maybe something picked up at the "farmer's market" which is a semi-permanent pop-up grocery store.

This image helps understand the bizarre food-war culture a bit. California's Drought - Page 20 California-water-2013
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Post  sanderson 11/6/2016, 4:05 pm

Actually, it isn't just a fallow field. This is the west side where orchards and fields are dead or plowed. There are some areas, especially along the I-5, that are irrigated. Yes, lots of politics involved (and maybe poor stewardship?). What bothers me is that they didn't plant a winter grass to hold the soil in place, hence dust devils and loss of top soil. Of course, is it really top soil as when the fields were active, they were regularly plowed? I wish they would start winter crops, and high chop and drop. I wonder if the orchards could have squeaked by if they had covered the wide isles with almond hulls, pits, feed lot manure, the by-products.

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Post  donnainzone5 11/6/2016, 4:51 pm

Sanderson,

Those are all excellent points.
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Post  Kelejan 11/6/2016, 8:25 pm

donnainzone5 wrote:Sanderson,

Those are all excellent points.

I especially agree with " I wish they would start winter crops, and high chop and drop. I wonder if the orchards could have squeaked by if they had covered the wide isles with almond hulls, pits, feed lot manure, the by-products."

Anything to keep the soil covered from hot sun and evaporation.
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Post  sanderson 11/14/2016, 10:04 pm

Taking out orchards on Ave 9, Madera.

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Post  Kelejan 11/15/2016, 1:16 am

sanderson wrote:Taking out orchards on Ave 9, Madera.

What's the betting they will just cart away the debris instead of chipping it and leaving it in place?
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Post  sanderson 11/15/2016, 3:58 am

Good question. Friends told us that they recently noticed pulled trees being chipped on site. I looked for any sign that the chips were spread on other orchards or bare fields. Of course, the amount of wood that would be produced could be easy lost in the vast amount of dirt. I did notice manure, most likely chicken or turkey, spread between the rows of a couple orchards. What I think would help is to spread any byproduct on the flat areas between the rows of trees and do it for at least 3 years. Growing a winter mix of vetch, alfalfa and winter rye, chop and drop in the spring, would also help. Of course, the seeding would cost money and I don't know how many have spare cash to do it. I would love a moratorium on curtailing ag water and allow the farmers time to change over. At some time, say 3 years, cut off the water if they haven't converted.

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Post  No_Such_Reality 11/15/2016, 10:51 am

They chip them on site, but mostly haul all the chips out.  I've seen them load and haul out.

Good points above, I used fallow to indicate the field the farmer chose to let go dormant.  Mismanaged as noted.  Typically a fallowed field is allowed to rest a year or two and put back into circulation.  That isn't the case here as the water allocation isn't coming back.

Still my point remains, you see the dust devil fields  and a little further on something else being planted.  It isn't to say there aren't problems, but it's been five years that the water restrictions have been hitting.  They're not intending to change.  They're not going to plant cover crops and they're not starting permaculture solutions.  It almost seems as if they are intentionally doing the exact same things the farmers in the dust bowl did.

Modern farming isn't much better. To be competitive, they need to treat their fields like a factory.  They rip it up, plant sensors and drip tape that have a short useful life, plastic wrap the raise row, plant tomatoes, irrigate highly control, fertilize, pesticide and manage tightly to insure a uniform and large crop that mature all at once so it can be harvested at once and field turned over.

I'm not a fan, but our nations grocery store predilections have really turned our farms into something far removed from the wholesome image of a family farm.
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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 11/15/2016, 1:16 pm

I was curious what other disadvantages orchard growers might perceive to mulching or cover cropping the rows. I learned that vetch can entwine sprinklers and grape vines, alfalfa increases gopher populations (they damage tree roots and irrigation pipes), and apparently rye can be difficult to use due to the need for timing the mowing: too soon and it grows back, too late and you have too much biomass and that can interferes with mechanical weeding.< there were other problems implied with too much biomass, but they didn't spell them out. There was also something about nitrogen fluxes interfering with hardening off, leading to increased frost damage in the winter. Manure and straw mulch can contain weed seeds. Another interesting tidbit was that some orchard growers use "mow and blow" rather than "chop and drop" - the cuttings are moved from the aisle to the tree row rather than left on the aisle. I'd still think there's got to be some cover crop or combination that would give better monetary yield than fallow land.

I'm grateful that SFG'ing allows me to weed, plant seeds, and remove pests with just my hands.

If the orchard is apple or peach or pecans, I wonder if the wood chips are sold for bbq smoking. Or maybe they are being moved to mulch surviving orchards to try to keep those going longer.
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Post  No_Such_Reality 11/16/2016, 9:10 am

Don't know what they're doing with the wood, I'd assume they're selling it if at all possible.

I remember reading an article earlier this year.  Down this way one farmer was ripping out his olive trees because the olive market is saturated and planting almonds.  It was written around the water issue and the olives not making enough money to pay for the watering.  Almonds being sold overseas produce more money per acre.

To me it's bizarre. Olives are a drought tolerant tree.  Unless he was establishing a freshly planted orchard, the olives should be fine with a little supplemental winter watering.  They're a tree evolved for the southern/central California environment.  

I'm looking to redo my backyard, but olives are outrageously expensive now due to Olive Psyllid.
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Post  sanderson 11/16/2016, 1:02 pm

Yes, almond trees seem to be the rage now. My folks had 4 of them as their neighborhood was developed on an old almond orchard. As the houses were built, each home had a few trees left. Something that wouldn't be done today. While olive trees are Mediterranean, they can be a bit messy and some folks are allergic to the pollen.

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Post  countrynaturals 11/19/2016, 11:49 am

102 million trees dead in CA drought. Unprecedented in modern history. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-dead-trees-20161118-story.html
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Post  sanderson 12/9/2016, 4:08 am

Woke up this morning (Thursday) to 0.4" of rain! bounce

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Post  countrynaturals 12/9/2016, 11:21 am

sanderson wrote:Woke up this morning (Thursday) to 0.4" of rain!  bounce
Sweet! I checked the drought monitor again, today. No change.  Sad
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Post  Yardslave 12/10/2016, 3:00 pm

My rain gauge shows .2" so far with more due in later today- hope it keeps up! Despite the rain, a test hole dug this morning revealed that the soil is only saturated to the first 2" of soil. Looks like we'v got a long way to go to catch up.
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Post  sanderson 12/10/2016, 3:16 pm

YS, I just checked your weather. Is it true you are expecting rain for a few days? Very Happy

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Post  countrynaturals 12/10/2016, 4:19 pm

Our legislators are arguing right now about sending more of our water down to you guys. It seems there's a trade-off between our summer salmon and your summer crops. Why does life have to be so complicated? California's Drought - Page 20 1280598131
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Post  sanderson 12/10/2016, 5:54 pm

Politicians?

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Post  donnainzone5 12/10/2016, 5:58 pm

I was going to say government, but thought that might be too political.
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Post  sanderson 12/10/2016, 6:11 pm

Let's see. We elect politicians to serve in the Government, and they are the ones who make decisions for us. Just the facts, ma'am.

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Post  sanderson 12/12/2016, 3:09 am

Came across this article on Facebook. Two friends had liked it. http://www.upworthy.com/this-science-fair-winner-is-taking-on-global-drought-using-oranges-and-avocados?c=sr1&s=p&sr_source=lift_facebook

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Post  Kelejan 12/12/2016, 11:36 am

That is a great idea.  I like the idea that she wants it to get off the ground and not just remain a good idea that gets lost.
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Post  yolos 12/12/2016, 12:48 pm

Kelejan wrote:That is a great idea.  I like the idea that she wants it to get off the ground and not just remain a good idea that gets lost.
+1
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Post  Yardslave 12/12/2016, 1:38 pm

+1
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Post  sanderson 12/17/2016, 1:38 am

12-15-16 through early morning the 16th! California's Drought - Page 20 Rain_g11

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