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North Valley Orchards Hit Hard by Wet Weather

A quick look at orchards in Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties show that spring is here. Branches are beginning to leaf out after a heavy, wet winter. But walnut, peach and almond growers are not yet out of the woods.

Some experts are worried that trees and crops in the north valley are in danger because of the particularly wet winter.

"There's too much water everywhere, and it's been here too long," said Franz Niederholzer, UC tree crop adviser.

Last winter water seeping through levees required emergency levee repairs. But the Feather River is still high, and the water in low-lying fields has yet to drain after periodic rainstorms this spring.

Flooding in some orchards has killed trees.

"The root systems are potentially injured by the water, exposure by all this water, the disease or just drowning," Niederholzer said.

Others appear to be fine but agricultural experts believe they could be more prone to disease. The scary part of this is that the long-term affects of water damage on orchard trees don't show up right away.

One walnut orchard on the Feather River flood plain wont be dry for several more weeks. During the winter it was less of an issue because trees were dormant and root systems weren't active.

Of particular risk, newly planted trees whose roots aren't yet established.