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Friday, May 16, 2014

Fearing Drought, Central Valley Marijuana Growers Start Early

Posted By on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 12:56 PM

click to enlarge A fine smoke - PIXABAY
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  • A fine smoke

Now that San Francisco has survived its summer (all three hot days of it) it's back to sweater weather in the Bay.

But in the rest of the state, people are settling in for a real hot and dry spell. The drought is expected to continue and possibly intensify, according to the latest NOAA forecast, which leaves the state's farmers to figure out ways to beat it.

For marijuana farmers in the Central Valley, beating the heat apparently means getting in a crop early, and getting water for free from unattended hoses.

Cops are busting grow sites with mature plants in multiple Valley towns, according to newspapers in Merced and Tulare. The season supposedly starts in April, but putting in a harvest early may be the only time to score water.

Some like to say that there's really no such thing as a "marijuana season" anymore. They have an excellent point: indoor grows run lights 24/7/365, and those plants need water. Still, there's no yield like an outdoor yield. Plants are bigger and the cost per grower, per plant can drop a bit without an electricity bill.

There's been much alarm already this year over the state marijuana industry's ability to desiccate California and suck vital rivers and streams dry.

To date, that has never happened. Whether it truly could or not is open to some debate, though a scientist with the state Fish and Game Commission has told Mother Jones and other outlets in no uncertain terms that the summertime streams in Mendocino County could run dry.

Summertime is always dry in California, and this summer is no exception.

click to enlarge drought_noaa.png

Running hoses in April and May could be a way around that. Already in Tulare County, cops have busted about 15,000 plants. With six months to go in the "season," last year's total of 240,000 plants seized could be surpassed, the Visalia Times-Delta reported.

In Atwater, police found over 5,500 plants, indoor and outdoor, and told the Merced Sun-Star that the water used to feed the thirsty grow was stolen.

All the grows were illegal.

In addition to beating the heat, these grows could also be aiming to beat what pot grow guru Ed Rosenthal has called the "looming marijuana shortage." Rosenthal, an Oakland resident, thinks that this long and hot summer is going to be hell on the marijuana crop, much of which will wither and die for lack of adequate hydration.

Could 2014 be the worst year ever for weed? If so, enterprising criminals are trying to make marijuana while the sun shines and while there's still water to take.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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