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Rain impacting Central Coast agriculture

​​​​​Rain is in the forecast for the Central Coast over the next several days. It’s a welcome sight for many, especially for those in the agriculture industry.

“We need the rain,” said Ron Labastida, Babe Farms Food and Safety Director, Babe Farms. “We’re so far behind on the water tables. They’re very low. Some of our ranches, the wells have dropped quite a bit, so we really do need to replenish the water table.”

On a wet Wednesday afternoon, Labastida noted the many positives the precipitation is bringing to area farms.

“If we get enough rain, we could leech down the salts, that’s another advantage and just less irrigation for this time of year,” said Labastida.

While the rain is much needed after years of drought, it is also creating complications for farmers at the same time.

“The ground prep, the cultivation, fertilizing, planting, everything is running behind now,” said Labastida.

Labastida said the rain is particularly causing issues with the planting schedule.

“We’re starting to be a little off-schedule,” Labastida said. “Right now, being the slowest time of year growing, it’s not too much of an impact, but in a few months, that’s when you’re really going to notice that the production schedule.”

Another key issue the wet weather is creating is wet, slippery, muddy roads, which makes operating heavy machinery, such as farm tractors, nearly impossible.

“As far as doing any of the ground prep and ground work, we’re pretty much shutdown for the day,” said Labastida.

While machinery needed to be parked during the rainfall Wednesday, field workers continued to work.

“It will be a regular day on harvesting,” Labastida said. “It’s just production will be a little bit slower. Working in the mud, the people are tiring, and it’s just not as efficient.”

Over the past several weeks, the Santa Maria Valley has been on the receiving end of a handful of storms, spaced out just enough to allow the rainfall to seep into the water table. It’s a trend famers hope continues on.

“Too much water at one time, yes, the way we’re set up on the field, they will not drain that quick, so tail ends of fields would back up and wash out some crops,” said Labastida.

With more rain forecast to arrive over the next several days, farmers may have to adjust schedules to work around the wet stuff, but acknowledge it’s better than the alternative of going without it.

“It’s very positive,” Labastida said. “We need this rain and I know they were talking about a dry winter and hopefully their wrong and we get a little more rain.

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