Farmers around the region have been taking drastic measures to deal with the ongoing drought, but fortunately for local children, there will still be plenty of pumpkins to choose from at Turlock's R.A.M. Farms.
Ron Macedo, owner of R.A.M. Farms and Turlock Irrigation District Board president, said that in order to continue operating the popular fall destination under drought conditions, he has to rely more on the groundwater he receives by tapping into the property’s wells.
In addition, the farm now utilizes drip irrigation for both the pumpkin patch and corn fields—a move that Macedo says a lot of farmers throughout the state have made in order to get by during the ongoing drought.
“We invested quite a bit of money in drip irrigation, but a lot of growers are willing to spend a lot of money to conserve water,” said Macedo.
Although costly, Macedo believes it is more efficient to drip irrigate since it helps fertilize the pumpkins and better controls weeds. By adjusting his crops to suit drip irrigation, Macedo was even able to add more acreage to his pumpkin patch this year.
Macedo said he would continue to make the necessary adjustments at R.A.M. Farms to survive under drought conditions, however, he identifies with the countless other farmers throughout the region who are still hoping for rain.
Looking ahead, Macedo said that he is also among others in the Central Valley who are concerned about the new groundwater legislation that was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday. These new rules will require agencies in fast-depleting groundwater basins to implement sustainability plans and allows for water meters and fines for monitoring and enforcement. The California Water Resources Control Board will also be able to intervene if locals fail to act or come up with inadequate solutions.
“Farmers as a whole are optimistic people, but we are still nervous because these are changing times,” concluded Macedo.
R.A.M. Farms is set to officially open just in time for the holiday season on Sept. 27. The farm will have a 20-acre corn maze for guests as well as over 45 varieties of pumpkins to choose from. Other activities include pumpkin bowling, a hay maze, scary shed, sandbox, tractor corral, and snack bar.
The farm will operate from noon to dusk Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is located at 716 N. Daubenberger Dr. For more information, visit ramfarms.com.