Mild October propels harvests
Light rains bring precipitation totals to above seasonal averages
By TIM HEARDEN
SACRAMENTO -- California's mostly sunny skies and warm afternoons in October enabled fall harvests to proceed apace.
Most areas in the Central Valley only got about four days of rainfall in the month, which were enough to put precipitation totals in northern areas above their monthly and seasonal averages.
But the season's first significant storm on Oct. 22 caused only a brief pause in the rice harvest, which is now about two-thirds complete, the USDA reports.
A Halloween system brought only light rain to the valley.
"We took a couple of days off" for the first storm, said Charley Mathews, a Marysville grower who chairs the California Rice Commission. "There's not much you can do about it. All in all it was a late year to begin with. We're just trying now to get everything in."
Some walnut growers didn't stop at all. In fact, the rain helped with hull split, said Rick Buchner, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Red Bluff.
"They were splitting really nice and coming in nice and clean," Buchner said. "They could have used a little dry wind following (the first storm). Some guys I work with held up for a day and then got back into it."
Nut harvests are mostly winding down, although some late-variety pecan producers were still in the fields as of Nov. 1, Buchner said.
Among other crops, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Sacramento:
* Last week's rain stopped kiwi harvest in Butte County, but it quickly picked up again after the rain was over.
* The rainfall increased soil moisture for producers to plant their winter small grain crops. Over a quarter of the crop has been planted and the rain helped the seeds to germinate and emerge from the ground.
Astorm moving down from Alaska could bring rain and significant mountain snow through this weekend (Nov. 10-11).
"This is still pretty early in the season," said Kathy Hoxsie, a National Weather Service warning coordinator in Oxnard. "We get these occasional storms in October and November, but when we really hope they start coming in is December."
Here are the October and seasonal rainfall totals and comparisons to normal for selected California cities, according to the National Weather Service. Totals are as of Oct. 31:
Redding: Month to date 2.35 inches (normal 2.1 inches); season to date 2.35 inches (normal 3.01 inches)
Eureka: Month to date 2.72 inches (normal 2.24 inches); season to date 3.5 inches (normal 3.32 inches)
Sacramento: Month to date 1.14 inches (normal 0.95 inches); season to date 1.17 inches (normal 1.29 inches)
Modesto: Month to date 0.12 inches (normal 0.68 inches); season to date 0.12 inches (normal 0.96 inches)
Salinas: Month to date 0.19 inches (normal 0.58 inches); season to date 0.19 inches (normal 0.78 inches)
Fresno: Month to date 0.25 inches (normal 0.63 inches); season to date 0.25 inches (normal 0.82 inches)
Here are the percentages of capacity for California reservoirs as of midnight Oct. 31, according to the Department of Water Resources California Data Exchange Center:
Trinity Lake: 71 percent
Shasta Lake: 54 percent
Lake Oroville: 52 percent
New Bullards Bar Reservoir: 61 percent
Folsom Lake: 41 percent
New Melones Reservoir: 61 percent
Millerton Lake: 54 percent
Pine Flat Reservoir: 20 percent
Lake Isabella: 15 percent
San Luis Reservoir: 33 percent