It might not feel like it, but we’re already approaching the final weeks of summer. Fall is just around the corner, ready to kickstart a new season on September 24th.
For growers, the autumn means much more than cool temperatures, shrinking daylight hours, and harvests. It’s also an opportunity to begin winterizing your operation, including all irrigation systems. After all, if you want those systems to serve you well during the growing season, you need to maintain their health during the coldest months of the year.
“Preventative maintenance during the wintertime is what will keep you afloat during the spring and summer,” explains FGS’ irrigation sales manager, Sam Baldivia. Every spring, Baldivia spends most of his time in the field, diagnosing problems that have jeopardized the unrestricted water flow of his customers’ irrigation. Sometimes, the culprit is a buildup of algae, bacteria, or calcium, which can cause damage to emitters. Other times, small animals have chewed holes in the irrigation lines. Whatever the issue may be, a regular schedule of preventative maintenance can save customers the trouble of calling Baldivia — or a member of his team — to fix any irrigation issues once springtime hits.
To begin winterizing your system, stock up on spare irrigation parts to repair any faulty drip lines, sprinklers, valves, or filters. Make sure have the right tools for a quick, in-the-field fix, too. Our FGS supply centers will have what you need to get started.
FGS also offers commercial irrigation systems that are custom-built to ensure proper distribution uniformity across your unique operation, as we understand that all systems are different. However, most growers can start preparing their irrigation systems for the winter by following these steps:
- Flush your system directly after the last harvest, so it’s clean to put away for the winter.
- Check filters for sand or tears in the screens.
- Winterize your valves.
- Check the wiring on your pumps and other electrical equipment for signs of wear-and-tear, so your systems will start right up when you need them in the spring.
- Check your sprinklers to ensure they spin correctly.
- Spot-check your drip lines for uniform output.
Remember that it’s common for the yearly harvest to cause some damage to your crop irrigation systems. Dripper lines can be accidentally cut. Valves can be broken by heavy harvest equipment. These issues are to be expected — for experienced growers, it’s just the cost of doing business — but you should begin repairing that damage right after the harvest. Why? Because you want your irrigation systems to resume their normal watering scheduling for at least a few weeks during fall’s final stretch. Otherwise, your trees will go to bed dry once the wintertime arrives.
While you’re thinking about repairs, consider calling one of our installation crews to conduct any system upgrades, overhauls, or sustainability modifications. These crews are the least busy during the fall and wintertime, making those months a great time to add water meters, soil moisture sensors, and site weather stations to your operation. In California, where growers pay by the inch once they surpass their water allowance, accurately monitoring the amount of water being pulled from the ground is critical to running a cost-effective operation. We’re here to help — it’s what we’ve been doing more than a century — so give us a call today.