Months ago, I saw it coming. Crossing Snoqualmie Pass in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, I drove by ski runs that showed more dirt than snow.
That spelled trouble. Less snow means less water in the spring for fruit growers and others. Unlike California, Washington State got plenty of rain in recent months, just not enough that fell as snow last winter.
Snowpack this year was less than 10 percent of normal, which caused one Yakima Valley irrigation district to shut down water for three weeks and caused Washington Governor Jay Inslee to declare a statewide drought emergency.
For growers, the drought most affects those with junior water rights; they were told to expect less than half of their normal allotment.
This issue of Good Fruit Grower features a report by Dr. Holly Ferguson of Washington State University on irrigation strategies. She reports that crops can withstand a 20- to 30-percent loss of water with only moderate reductions in yield, but water shortages greater than 40 to 50 percent could likely result in extreme yield losses.
For additional information on low-water conditions, visit our website, where we have created a special page of useful articles from our archives.
Those reports give tips on managing stress of fruit trees or grapevines, using straw to reduce water use, and handling pests and weeds during drought.
You can find the page at goodfruit.com/drought.
Good Fruit Grower’s archives are extremely valuable to our readers. That’s why we’ve worked hard to re-engineer our website so growers can find information more quickly and easily.
Visitors to goodfruit.com have doubled in the past year. Traffic from mobile devices grew by 221 percent over the past 12 months. We recently reworked our site so it functions even better on smart phones and tablets.
In coming months, watch for further enhancements resulting from investments in our website and in customer-service software. We think subscribers who already love our print magazine will enjoy our other services, such as further-improved archives and more frequent delivery of eFlash, our popular newsletter.
A survey last year by Washington State University showed that farmers rely on our magazine. More than half described Good Fruit Grower as their primary source of news.
That’s encouraging to see, but it also reminds us of our ongoing duty to get even better so we remain the essential resource for growers, rain, snow, or shine. •