Wind, Rain Hit Central Valley Vineyards

Brian GermanNuts & Grapes

Rain, wind, and lightning covered the middle of California Monday evening, causing some damage in Central Valley vineyards. The National Weather Service reported some areas experiencing as much as a quarter of an inch of rain.

Central Valley vineyardsRaisin grapes in most areas had already been set out to be dried in the field by late-summer heat. Adding moisture at this stage can cause significant problems with dirt and mold concerns.

The rain caused some concerns for raisin growers, but it was the powerful winds that were responsible for the most damage to Central Valley vineyards.

“There seemed to be different bands of moisture that went through the valley. There was definitely some other effects as well, besides rain. We saw some wind and some other issues,” said Jeff Bitter, Vice President of Operations with Allied Grape Growers.

“Some structures were torn apart by some high winds, there were some power poles that were snapped and ended up laying into some raisin vineyards,” said Bitter. “We actually had some rows completely blown over by the wind in some winegrape vineyards. The rows are now laying on the ground and unharvestable.”

Bitter noted that it’s not uncommon for rain systems to come in when grapes are still vulnerable on the vine and raisins are already on the ground. “Everybody just hopes that when an event does happen that it’s followed by sunny days and specifically breezy sunny days.”

Fresno County is the biggest supplier of raisins in the U.S. and is also a major contributor to the international market. The area forecast shows sunny conditions for the remainder of the week, but even with warm, dry winds, it is going to take some extra effort to make sure crops are ready to be marketed.