FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – As flood waters continue to flow into the southern San Joaquin Valley and with several dozen feet of snow to still melt in the Sierra, it could be at least a year for water to recede from hundreds of acres of farmland.

“In the area where they are, a lot of crops are underwater and it’ll take 12 to 24 months for the water to dry, for the land to dry, which means they’ve lost their crops,” added CSU Bakersfield chair of economics Aaron Hegde.

The excess water and moisture have been something on the minds of almost everyone in the Central Valley. The impacts from it have been felt across the board, especially in the ag world.

On Thursday, farmers, environmental experts and scientists came together at Fresno State for the ‘Future of Ag’ summit where the issue of this year’s rain and snowfall was discussed.  

“There is not a lot that can be done once a row crop has been submerged like that. And those farmers are gonna take a big hit,” said, senior staff scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Jennifer Pett-Ridge.

The areas underwater, like in the Tulare Lake bed region by Corcoran, are the most extreme examples of crops and land ruined by recent floods.

The more fortunate growers have still fallen behind as they’ve been left with soggy fields and less-than-ideal conditions.

“We’re basically trying to get in the field whenever we can,” director of sustainability at Woolf Farming Daniel Hartwig said. “So, when we get a lot of rain, we’re knocked out for two or three days when it tries to dry out. So, you try to work for those days where it’s dry, and you now watch the forecast, and try to see what’s coming up.” 

Speaking with his colleagues in the Tulare Lake Bed Hartwig said there is a shared feeling of uncertainty.

“Folks are kind of scrambling because you know, it’s really really challenging to, you know, you’ve made plans for your crop,” said Hartwig. “And now with all the rainfall we’ve gotten you can’t always get that harvest in and you can’t get them planted as you’re planning.” 

Some have asked for additional reservoirs, but many in the scientific community say recharged groundwater is the real key.

“If you look at the valley in California, the way things evolved here there were regular floods,” interim associate vice president of the California Water Institute are Fresno State Charles Hillyer said. “The floods also killed people. So, we invested a lot in flood control, and that saved a lot of lives, but it also prevented a lot of this flood water from going into the aquifer. So, if we can find ways to restore that kind of balance that’s gonna go a long way to help us make water use sustainable in the valley.”

There’s a consensus that the storms have absolutely helped with the water supply, now it’s just to continue discussions on how to plan and adapt to future ones, so the state and region can save as much as possible.