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SSJID passes on winter irrigation run for at least now
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The steady rain on Monday and Tuesday may have helped South San Joaquin Irrigation dodge the bullet when it comes to needing a winter irrigation run.
The storm that was still pelting the South County with rain when the SSJID board met on Tuesday dropped 2 inches on some areas of the district, according to General Manager Peter Rietkerk.
The board opted not to make any decision on whether a winter irrigation run was needed. However they will continue to monitor the situation.
“If the weather goes back to being dry and the winds pick up it might still be needed,” Rietkerk said.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting a number of growers had made inquiries given to dry conditions exacerbated by December’s rainfall being only 4 percent of normal for the South County.
January and February are critical times for almonds, the No. 1 crop in the Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon countryside. If there is little or no rain not only does it put almond trees under stress but if weather warms above normal with lack of moisture and buds start to set trees would be in critical need of water. At the same time harsh winds before the buds set works to dry out the ground.
There are more than 33,000 acres of almonds within the SSJID boundaries. Almonds are followed by alfalfa at 6,000 acres, grapes at 6,000 acres, pasture at 5,200 acres, walnuts at 2,400 acres and peaches at 1,800 acres. The rest is split between a diversity of crops ranging from corn to melons.
The National Weather Service is forecasting morning and night fog over the next three days with a 30 percent chance of above average rain from Jan. 15 through Jan. 27. A series of cold storms coming in from Alaska is expected to bring snow and rain to the mountains, rain to the valley, cooler temperatures and possible snow below the level of Sierra passes.
More localized forecasts call for rain possibly on Tuesday and Friday of next week and then on Jan. 26 before staying dry until Feb. 7.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email