Gilroy cherry farmers concerned rain may destroy crops

GILROY, Calif. (KGO) -- Cherry farmers are hoping and praying all this rain won't wipe out their crops. But signs of damage are already showing.

These are the kind of cherries that sell, which is the livelihood of dozens of farmers in the area. But if even just a bit of moisture and rain get into the fruit, it splits open and they are spoiled.

That's making one farmer ABC7 News spoke to very, very nervous.

Paul Mirassou, partner at M&T Farms in Gilroy, has 75 producing cherry trees. He says they could lose them all because of the rain.

He's looking at about a quarter million dollar loss.

"That's a crack right there," he said. "You can eat them, it's just they don't look pretty so no one wants to buy them."

Then there are his tomatoes. "The bacterial spec, it's hard to control. It will stunt the plant, you won't get as much growth and you get a lot lower yield," Mirassou said.

"We have a total of 2,500 acres that we farm here," he said.

Mirassou has been a farmer here for 25 years.

But even at 25 years, the anxiety that is farming never goes away. Visit any of the dozens of cheery orchards in the South Bay and you'll likely pot crews scrambling to protect their crops in anticipation of this unusual mid-May rain, some coating them with a wax-like substance.

"A lot of people say it doesn't really work but when you got all this money invested, I'm going to try it anyways," Mirassou said. "We're all depressed, we're all going to the coffee shop to cry about it. You want to pick your crops, you don't want it to burn down."

He said that farmers around here ride the waves of uncertainty all the time. But it doesn't help that last year, he also lost his entire cherry crop because of an unreasonably warm winter.

The real waste, though, is that even if only some of the cherries are cracked, it might still cost too much to pay for pickers to harvest the trees.

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