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$450 million in agriculture damage estimated for Monterey County farms after recent storms

SALINAS, CALIF. (KION-TV)- The skies are looking a lot different from how they looked in past weeks.

Water can still be seen across some farms in the Salinas area. According to the Ag Commissioner of Monterey County, Juan Hidalgo, the number of acres impacted might be worse than in January. 

“I think right now we're looking at an additional maybe close to $450 million in agricultural damages impacting, you know, probably close to 20,000 acres is what we're looking at this time,” Hidalgo said.

The amount of rain these recent storms brought is showing mixed results for people planting their crops. 

Some crops look a lot more sprouted, and grown, and they look ready to go. Others look like they’re barely planted and barely starting to grow. 

The reason for this is the amount of water that's been saturated into the soil.

Those soils that were affected by the large amounts of rain and flooding caused delays in planting the crop.

Farms like Muzzi family farms are feeling these effects. Vice President of Sales and Marketing Paul Mocettini explained how much it pushed them back, saying in part quote:

“Many of the fields that flooded in January would have just been planted or ready to plant when the March floods hit, setting them back another 30-60 days. In addition to the flooded fields, many fields that got saturated during heavy rains may not have been accessible to plant for 8-10 days, creating longer than normal gaps between plantings.”

The Ag Commission wants to be sure the soils are safe to be planted on before the planting process can start.

“Our grower's ability to go back and the plant is going to depend on the field fully being drained out and testing for pathogens, in particular E coli, before they can go back and replant again,” Hidalgo said.

Even with these delays, there’s hope knowing not all the farm areas were impacted.

“When we look at the grand scope of things, I think it's important for our communities to understand that you know, here in Monterey County, we have about 300,000 irrigated acres,” Hidalgo said. “And so, you know, 20,000 is roughly just part of that 300,000 acres that we have.”

When it comes to the workers who have to wait for their fields to dry, Hidalgo said they’d look to see if the fields less impacted will be able to step in and help provide them work until the affected soil is ready to grow.

Growers are still encouraged to fill out the survey provided by the Ag Commission if they’ve sustained any damage. The commission says it will take some time to compile all the data and determine the number of commodities affected most.

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Karl Cooke

Karl Cooke is a Multimedia Journalist for KION News Channel 46


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