Flooded Orchard Damage Update, Part 3

Janine Hasey, UCCE Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba/Colusa Counties, and Greg Browne, USDA Plant Pathologist, UC Davis, and Astrid Volder, Plant Sciences, UC Davis, and Bruce Lampinen, UCCE walnut Specialist, UC Davis

In 2017, high and fluctuating water flows, unprecedented for their duration, passed through the Sacramento and Feather Rivers. Orchards were hurt by these flows due to direct flooding, indirect flooding via under-levee seepage, and loss of land through river bank erosion. Many orchards had standing water from January through mid-May. In other orchards, ditches overflowed with nowhere to pump water out. Unlike previous years where floods occurred from levee breaks, such as 1986 and 1997, trees in 2017 had a much longer exposure to waterlogged conditions.  We have written previously about flooding damage generalities and past flood events. Part 1 of this article detailed our observations on flooded orchard damage as of early June and current research plans; Part 2 explored management considerations; and Part 3 provides an update on potential resources available for flood damaged orchards.

Potential Resources for Orchards Damaged by Flooding

We still don’t know fully which programs are available and who will qualify for what programs. We’ve previously written more complete summaries of the resources available below and how to report tree damage.

1.Farm Service Agency (FSA)
All the programs available through the FSA can be accessed at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/ 
Contact your local office for program details and deadlines to qualify. Note that to qualify for FSA programs, dead trees from 2017 flooding/seepage need to be left in orchards for loss assessments that will be conducted later this summer.

Tree Assistance Program (TAP)
The TAP provides financial assistance to eligible nursery and tree crop growers to rehabilitate or replant eligible trees or vines lost by natural disasters. To qualify, there must be more than 18% (15% + normal 3%) mortality loss in an orchard block. Final date to submit an application and supporting documentation is 90 days after the disaster event or the date when the loss is apparent.

Emergency Loan Assistance
A program which provides emergency loans to help cover production and physical losses in counties declared as disaster areas by the President.

Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)
Tehama County and Butte County FSA offices are waiting to hear final approval for the Emergency Conservation Program. This program may help assist with debris removal, releveling or grading, and restoring irrigation systems. Contact the respective office if you have land in Butte or Tehama counties. This program will not apply to orchards inside the levees.

2. County Assessor
The Revenue and Taxation Code allows reassessment of property damaged by misfortune or calamity. If there is at least $10,000 worth of losses of tree value currently on the tax roll, you can obtain a claim form from the Assessor’s office.

3. Tree loss calculators based on UCCE cost studies through Agricultural & Resource Economics at UC Davis.
When an individual tree or vine is destroyed in an orchard or vineyard due to natural causes, vehicle accident, shaker damage, or other causes such as flooding, the tree loss calculator provides workbooks on specific crops to calculate the value of a single tree or vine lost to any cause taking into account the loss of future income. There are two worksheet versions:  “With Replanting” and “Without Replanting”.

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