Sixth Avenue used to cut through miles of farmland. Now, the road has disappeared under muddy water, its path marked by sodden telephone poles that protrude from the swelling lake. Water laps just below the windows of a lone farmhouse that sits alongside the submerged route.
Third-generation San Joaquin Valley farmer Gary Beene will plant only half his 1,200 acres this year. He doesn’t have enough water for the other half.
“We’re working on survival more than anything else and getting through this year,” said Beene, who farms tomato, almond, cotton and garlic with his sons and grandson on the land his grandfather settled in California in the 1930s after sharecropping in Oklahoma. “It’s pretty discouraging. I’m hoping to steer my grandchildren away from agriculture. It’s sad.”