Garlic! Growers have turned off the water. The stems are drying, nodding and folding over. They rattle in the hot summer thermals.
This time of the year, the roads are littered with bits of paper-thin skins that have skittered out of transport truck cages. The translucent scraps swoop and swirl as they are lifted by traffic.
As you drive down 99, somewhere between Manteca and Madera, you will smell a garlic processing plant in full swing. And if it is just before lunch, you will long for a plate of spaghetti or a strong salsa or some chimmichuri sauce as your stomach begins to growl.
The crucible of change isn’t always easy to witness.
My trip through the Tulare Lake bottoms revealed shuttered dairies and a desolate landscape.
Westside crops were obviously suffering from drought-deficit-irrigation. Proud corn that should have been broad-leafed, glossy-green, and 12-foot tall, was spindly and dull. Cotton that should have been straining to the sky and as high as my shoulder was shorter than my waist and going into “Cut-out,” which is when environmental conditions tell the cotton plant to produce its last boll. The last creamy flowers were beacons through the uppermost leaves.
We need our policymakers to resolve the water supply crisis. But, I doubt that will happen in my lifetime. A few years ago, I was told that California Central Planners wanted to eliminate a certain percentage of growers in order to have water to support urban growth projections. I didn’t believe that statement then. However, as I drive the fringes, the areas not commonly seen, I see where the dismantling of Ag has begun. I believe it now.
I helped a grower with RWQCB mandated photodocumentation of the Salinas River, which was a worhtless exercise – but, I don’t want to discuss that.
Rather, I want to talk about the romance of farming. The mica in the soil that causes sandy soil to sparkle. Or what it is like to get reacquainted with sclerotinia lettuce drop and cabbage maggot and those pesky little weeds: Lambsquarters, Russian thistle, Shepherd’s purse, Fiddle neck, Kochia, and Pigweed.
I saw the “Eliminator” which is a piece of equipment that strings together different tillage implements to reduce the number of passes over a field. These eliminators are Gi-normous and take a lot of fuel: 18 gallons per acre to run (Total fuel consumption per year, to produce a cool season vegetable? About 52gl/acre).
And today, the light on the Santa Lucias stretched them out against the sky! They TOWERED today and I felt minuscule standing in the field with my measly, little, inadequate GPS camera.
Reposted from May 01, 2013 11:03pm Facebook Post