There is no more planting bar another sowing of peas and beans, so we concentrate on getting the fields ready for spring. We picked up may miles of drip tape over the past week. We are using more drip tubing to save water each year. This is easier for us by the fact that we now have an attachment to our finger weeder that picks it up, cultivates underneath and then lays it back down next to the crop. In the 'Olden days,’ as my sons refer to anything past a few months ago, we had to move the drip tape out of the way by hand and then put it back. So two guys cultivating are needed; one ahead of them and another behind. This has made a huge difference to how many crops we can now use drip tape on. I had to make a quick trip to Woodland to get more empty rolls to store the tape for reuse next year. We normally get two uses from each roll of tape we buy. For the foreseeable future, there will be a need for sprinklers for part of many crops’ growing cycle.
On Tuesday I will be in Sacramento at a meeting with the California Department of Agriculture CDFA. They will explain how farmers can apply for help to install more efficient irrigation systems. There are technologies that we can install on the farm that will save us from 30 to 50% on our water use. This is great but the cost is $100,000; money we do not have kicking around. We do not make enough money and the savings in dollars at this time does not allow us to get a loan for this in normal channels. I am hopeful that we can work something out to make this happen sooner rather than later. No matter how much it rains this winter, the next two winters will be dry as is after every El Niño. The effect on the drought may be temporary but not in reality effective. We all need to use so much less water and the sooner we face this reality the better.
On the farm I have this crazy idea that if I plant the seed of rootstock for our fruit trees they will grow a deep tap root to search for water. I will graft a bud on the fruiting wood. The resulting tree will be much more drought tolerant. Unfortunately, every time I go to try and buy seed for rootstocks I hit road blocks. I sent money to UC Davis several years ago to pay for seed, onto which to grow peaches, nectarines and plums. They took the money but could not send me seed. I have also had my call to another seed supplier not returned. The status quo is that you put a tree in a pot or with bare roots and plant it. But the tap root is damaged and a multitude of shallow roots replace it that are much less drought tolerant. I did buy some seed online but not one of them germinated. My crazy idea is not crazy at all and they know it but it means we bypass a whole industry of tree growers. Again money talks.
Planning for next year is very much on my mind at this time of the year. I like to have the plan with the nursery by the end of the year. If you have any requests please let me know. I like to continue to improve on the farm crops that we grow and welcome new ideas.