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San Joaquin Grape Growers Cutting Back On Water Through Deficit Irrigation Technique

Gary Kazanjian / File Photo / AP
 

Gary Kazanjian / File Photo / AP

Farmers used to pour water down ditches or furrows to irrigate their vineyards, or use overhead sprinklers.

Most growers have to pump water underground from wells and that can be expensive.

So in San Joaquin County growers are now using a technique called regulated deficit irrigation using drip irrigation. 

Lodi grape grower Craig Rous says the practice has benefits beyond saving water and money.

"When you deficit irrigate, in other words, when you irrigate with less water than they really need to grow, they stop growing, the quality of the wine and the juice is actually better when you do it," says Rous.

Growers are also switching to drip irrigation to reduce the costs of pumping groundwater from wells.

"Drip uses a lot less water than what they used to and I would venture to guess that 90 to 95 percent of Lodi is now drip," says Rous. "There's nobody that does it by furrow unless it's a very old vineyard."

 droughtsan joaquin county

Rich Ibarra

Contributing Central Valley/Foothills Reporter

As the Central Valley correspondent, Rich Ibarra covers San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, along with the foothill areas including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. He covers politics, the economy and issues affecting the region.   Read Full Bio