A levee break on the Salinas River near Gonzales, Calif., has flooded up to 200 acres of growing lands, according to Monterey County officials.

A Merrill Farms property was among those affected. Vineyards are also in the area.

In the River Road farming corridor several miles northwest of the breach, closer to Salinas, growers were eager for a drying trend after a week of steady rain damaged some fields.

“I have 100 acres totally under water and unusable,” said John D’Arrigo, president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. For intact fields, harvesting on some crops could begin as early as next week – but it will be a challenge.

“A lot of guys are trying to harvest leaf lettuce (then), but it’s going to be a struggle if we get more rain,” D’Arrigo said. “Crops may be OK, but can you get to them without ruining your fields or slinging mud everywhere? It’s a serious situation.”

Salinas had about 3.5 inches of rain March 1-24, the National Weather Service estimates. Most was in the last week. Normal for the period is about 2 inches.

The NWS forecast calls for a diminishing chance of rain through the weekend, with clear or partly cloudy skies for several days after that.

“We’re just keeping a close eye on everything,” Doug Classen, sales manager at The Nunes Co., said March 24. “It’s too early to tell. The next 48 hours are key. From the different weather models I’ve seen, it’s going to start clearing up.”

Water piles up on Salinas Valley fields

Mike Hornick

A row crop field sits partly submerged under flood waters March 25 near Salinas, Calif.