Fields flooded frustrate farmers, could lead to higher grocery prices

While recent historic storms have been great for helping California make its way out of an equally historic drought, the rains have led to flooding at farms across California, damaging crops, and the result will lead to higher prices at the grocery store. 

Historic storms that have dumped inches of rain on California over the last several weeks are hurting farmers' crops. Flooded fields are damaging crops and farmers' livelihoods, and it could impact produce and farm fresh foods for consumers.

For farmer Kenny Tanaka, this time of year should be peak season for his number one crop — strawberries. But what he's been left with after weeks of heavy rains is heaps of rotten, soggy berries. 

"Some of the strawberries may look good, but when you touch them, they're full of water and melt," said Tanaka. "Strawberries are supposed to be in full bloom. If we didn't throw away most of our strawberries, we would have a good amount but with all the damage we had, we had to pick them off and throw them out."

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At Tanaka Fams in Irvine, workers are working to pick off the moldy, brown berries, which for farmers seems like watching money go to waste. At their sunflower field not far away, seeds were soaked, flooded from all the rain.

"We started planting our seeds for sunflowers trying to get them ready for Mother's Day, but [it's] looks like a lake out there," Tanaka said.

Tanaka Farms is a local farm meant for produce picking for families. But, on a larger scale, commercial farmers all along the California coast are experiencing similar frustrations — damaged crops and flooded fields, leaving little to harvest and conditions unsuitable for seeding. 

With all the damage, store prices are forecasted to go up in the spring and summer.

"You're going to see prices increase, strawberries increase," Tanaka said. "I've seen pictures of strawberries floating down the ground. This is their time but all the rain caused a lot of damage." 

Tanaka said he has no choice but to wait out the flooding in the meantime, hoping for sunnier skies and maybe for a bumper crop to bring in the business. Now, Tanaka said the farm is offering "free wagon rides, just to get people out here."