We hope you all enjoyed the holidays, at Bella Viva we are already preparing for our next growing season. The drought made last year extremely challenging for us. It led to the loss of trees and lower crop yields for the ones that survived. We would like to thank our customers for their continued support and for the encouraging emails that we received throughout the year. Despite the hardships felt by farmers in recent years, we are hopeful for an improvement in the drought situation thanks to early snow storms in the Sierra Nevada and the El Niño weather pattern.
Last year more than one million acres of agricultural land were left fallow in the Central Valley, about double the area before the drought. That is 15% of the irrigated farm land in California, a 522,000 acre increase from 2011 (CPR, 10/27/15). In addition, the topsoil and subsoil moisture rates were very short to short (both 90%). These figures are the worst in the nation according to the National Weather Service. Even though 92% of California remains in severe drought (UNL), we were fortunate enough to receive some early snow storms. The ski resorts even opened sooner than expected last November (CPR, 11/12/15). The snow pack is vital to us because it provides water throughout the summer as it melts and collects in reservoirs.
El Niño Arrives in California
Higher ocean temperatures and other anomalous conditions across the Pacific Ocean are leading meteorologists to predict a strong El Niño this winter. It is expected to rank among the top three episodes since 1950 (NWS). But unfortunately for Central Valley farmers, this year’s El Niño may provide southern California with ample precipitation, while avoiding the north and even causing warmer temperatures there (PopSci). This would follow the trend set by similar patterns in 1982-83 and 1997-98 (LAT, 12/10). El Niño could help to mitigate the unprecedented drought we are experiencing in California; but it is unclear if the storms will lead to a dense snow pack in the northern Sierra Nevada.