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Growers take Monday's rain in stride

Reservoirs continue to fill; forecast calls for dry, sunny weather starting today

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Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 12:00 am

Monday's late spring storm is no cause for concern, local growers said Monday. While the rains that fell on San Joaquin County are uncommon this time of year, they weren't causing growers around Lodi worry.

"It is a little late for showers," said Mark Chandler, executive director of the Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission. "Sometimes see them (showers) into June but we haven't heard of any damage."

The rain affects Lodi's crops of Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Tempranillo grapes similarly, but there isn't cause for concern, he said.

"All growers have been applying sulfur dust," he said. "They put some on before and after the rain."

Spraying winegrape clusters with sulfur dust can prevent mildew from growing on the crops and ruining the fruit.

The isolated storm shouldn't be an issue because the weather is expected to clear up through the week, he said.

Chandler wasn't concerned with the possibility of rain late into the season due to it being an El Nino year. As long as growers take steps to protect their crops, he said, they should be fine.

"The only part you worry about is hail," he said.

An almond grower also wasn't sweating the weather.

"The rain has no affect on almonds," said David Phippen, an almond grower in Ripon. "We are very fortunate."

Stiff winds could pose problems for his orchard, he said, but he is in the process of tying the delicate limbs of his young trees to protect his crop from damage.

Growers shouldn't expect more storms on the horizon.

Monday's storms aren't going to continue throughout the week said Mike Pigott, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, a private forecasting service.

After Monday's rain, the area should be experiencing a prolonged dry period, he said.

"The area could break into the 80s as early as Wednesday afternoon," he said.

The measurements of the storm were fairly light, he said.

According to measurements from the Lodi Lake Wilderness Area, Lodi received 0.23 inches of rain Monday.

The rain is helping the area's water storage, said Charles Hardy, senior public affairs representative for East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Pardee Reservoir is 90 percent full, he said, and Camanche Reservoir is 84 percent filled. Precipitation in the Mokelumne River basin is also 90 percent of average, Hardy said. That level has been holding steady for the last week.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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