Huge losses for northern California agriculture

After all the discussion about planting tomatoes too early we here in northern California have been hit with a cold snap much worse than expected. Not only were tomatoes planted too early killed our agricultural community has been hammered. We just had the most damaging late season frost in thirty years! Vineyards have suffered anywhere from a 15 to 100% loss. Almonds, peaches, plums, and other early season crops have been decimated. Some peach farmers are saying the loss is 100%. I don't know about nursery losses but can say we got “nailed” at the nursery.

Sure the vegetables were in the tent and escaped damage but even hardy plants that had new growth were damaged. Other than a bunch of marigolds and cosmos we had to dump most of the plants will recover. The problem is they will have to be set aside while we wait for new growth the replace the damaged growth. Even trees like crape myrtles had all the new growth damaged. Don't even mention the hydrangeas or Japanese Maples that will take at least a month to recover.

When we came back to work Monday you could see right away that we had an event that was going to effect the spring sales season. It got down to 30º F. It's weird walking through the nursery smelling the rotting foliage that was killed by the cold. We only have so much time to sell these plants and now they will have to be set aside while they recover. Never the less they will recover this year. The farmers that have lost their entire crop will have to wait till next year.

Your going to hear more about this cold spell as the damage is assessed and reported. A conservative estimate is the damage to grapes in Napa, Sonoma, and here in El Dorado County could reach $80 million! Thats just the grapes. Add all the peaches, plums, almonds, and other crops grown around here and the dollar loss will be HUGE.

We still have plenty of plants that we will be able to sell, so in our case the damage was bad but not devastating. Now we are staring straight into the high 70'sºF by the end of the week. We are going to be answering a lot of concerned customers questions in the next couple of weeks.