U.S.: "Major storms" to strike California, threatening cherry and stonefruit crops

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Two "major storms" and colder temps are angling to hit California's San Joaquin Valley growing regions, posing a threat to a large portion of the cherry crop and part of its stone fruit crop, says weather forecast company Weathermelon.

The first storm is anticipated to hit San Joaquin Valley's growing regions on Wednesday night and last until Thursday, bringing with it .5”-1” (about 1-2.5cm) of rainfall over the two-day period.

The second storm is scheduled to hit this Sunday, bringing up to 1” of rain. There is a chance that a third storm will hit the area next Tuesday, May 21.

Along with the rain will come cooler temperatures, notes the company.

Starting Wednesday, the area's highs are expected to stay in the low 70°s (about 21°C), with some isolated maximum temperatures falling several degrees below that, and minimum temperatures in the low 50°s (about 10°C) for the next 10 days.

The higher rain totals are expected to impact the northern end of the valley near Sacramento and Modesto, where the cherry harvest is close to beginning.

These storms are set to arrive on the heels of a system that came through Bakersfield, CA, last Friday, dropping up to .35" (.9cm) of rain on cherry trees in the region.

Although this weather is not unprecedented for this time of year, the company notes it is extremely unusual.

In Weathermelon's recent update, Tony Taviano from B&B Imports in Fresno said these storms have the potential to drastically affect the bing cherry crop and may lead to shippers enacting the “act of God” clause on their contracts.

Furthermore, Taviano said this weather may sow the seeds for a challenging summer marketing season of stone fruit, as the category can experience staining issues as a result of rain and easily suffers hail damage.

He added that potential ramifications could extend into the fall for table grapes.

Besides San Joaquin Valley, the storms are also predicted to hit the state's coastal growing regions of Salinas, Santa Maria, and Oxnard, causing possible harvest issues there.

As of right now, Salinas is expected to receive .75” (almost 2cm) of rain this Wednesday and Thursday.

The second storm on Saturday and Sunday may bring a little over  .5”, and next Tuesday is forecasted to bring .25”.

The rainfall here could affect the region's strawberry and lettuce crops.

Meanwhile, California's desert regions aren't likely to receive any rain, though they are set to experience cooler weather, with maximum temperatures in the 80°s (about 26°C) and minimum temperatures in the low 60°s over the next 10 days.

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