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California drought causes salt buildup problem for strawberry farmers

Coachella Valley strawberry plants on the left were stunted due to salt buildup in the soil. (Photo: Steven Koike)
If it weren't enough for farmers on California's Central Coast to deal with dwindling irrigation water supplies, they now also have to get a handle on a buildup of crop-stunting salt, reported the Salinas Californian.

During a drought, salts that would normally be leached out by rainfall stay on the surface. Growers are forced to irrigate with groundwater to wash salt out of the plants' rootzone.

Mark Bolda, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Santa Cruz County, told AgAlert, a publication of the California Farm Bureau Federation, that in Northern California many strawberry and cane berry fields are being affected. The result will be loss in yield.

In a blog post Bolda wrote in December titled A tsunami of salt is on the way, he said strawberry growers across the state need to keep running that water until we get some rain.

"There is so much salt building up in these soils right now," Bolda said more than two months ago.

The most serious damage, the Californian reported, is occurring in the Oxnard area and Choachella Valley.

Posted on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 11:23 AM
Tags: drought (171), Mark Bolda (5)

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