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Almond growers still hoping for more rain
Arnulfo Cedillo and his crew continued pruning grapes at a field on South Austin Road despite the rain on Wednesday morning, but decided to pack up shortly before noon. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Rain is usually bad news at this time of the year when the almond orchards are in bloom. Low temperatures leave pollinating bees cold which means they are not doing what they are supposed to do to maximize the crop yield come harvest time in the fall.

But local almond growers were not grumbling about the rain. On the contrary, they are still praying for more of the same.

“We need lots more,” said Manteca-Ripon farmer Dave Roorda who, along with other farmers and ag supporters in the area, is distributing blue-and-white placards with the message, “Pray for Rain,” that are scattered everywhere in South San Joaquin County.

“The rain is not real beneficial to the (almond) blossoms, but we have had good sunny days up to this point,” he explained.

That’s Lynn Van Laar’s sentiments exactly.

“Our trees have been blooming real well for the last two or so weeks,” said Van Laar, Ripon’s retired city clerk who farms almonds and other crops with husband, Herman.

“We’ve had other years when it rained and rained, and we still come up with something,” said an optimistic Van Laar.

She laughed as she recalled an earlier prediction she made that there will be rain while the blossoms are in bloom.

“This is funny because this is what I predicted,” she said laughing at the memory.

While Wednesday’s rainfall was not strong enough to flood the fields, nor was it stormy with buffeting winds, some field workers who were pruning the grape vines southeast of Manteca called it quits just before noon on Wednesday.

Arnulfo Cedillo, supervisor of the pruning crew of nearly two-dozen workers, said his workers “went home because of the rain.”

It was not raining when they started around 7 o’clock in the morning, he said. Based on the weather forecast, he and his crew will not be working today but they could return to finish pruning the grape field on South Austin Road on Friday and Saturday. They don’t work on Sundays, he said.

The extended weather forecast for Manteca and surrounding areas calls for morning showers today, rain and thunder on Friday, a few showers on Saturday, and mostly cloudy with a little bit of sun on Sunday. Throughout next week, few showers are expected Monday to Wednesday, and Showers on Thursday. Mostly sunny weather will return on Friday.