Nearly all of the rice planted on the Conservancy’s land is still in the ground, unharvested as of today. The Conservancy’s rice farmers are “mired in a slough of despondency” (to quote Shakespeare) over this year’s crop. One told me recently, “I just want it to be over.” The outlook for a decent opportunity to harvest this crop looks even more daunting as we read the latest weather forecast, which calls for more rain and cool, windy weather. There are so many ways this is bad for a successful harvest.
Since the Conservancy’s largest source of income (since there is virtually no HCP fees being paid these days) is from farm income, this is an important issue. The Conservancy relies on its good farmers remaining in business. These guys are experts at farming in the typically difficult Natomas Basin (high water costs, more intensive regulatory pressure, cooler weather due to being closer to the Delta), but this year, even the best of Natomas’ farmers are being tested.