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Walnut orchard in Sutter County vandalized

A young walnut orchard off Eager Road lost about 40 trees to vandalism when a truck drove through the 40-acre property outside Yuba City and did several thousands dollars of damage, the grower says.

"It's hurtful," said Robin Singh, 48.

The vehicle tore the bark off many trees — leaving them as "good as dead," Singh said Monday. The vehicle also damaged the irrigation system, Singh said.

It is believed the vandalism took place sometime last week at night.

Sutter County sheriff's Deputy Adrian Perez said such crime is not common and usually involves a youth. The perpetrator may not know the impact of the crime, the deputy noted.

"He's causing damage to a farmer's way of life," Perez said.

Ditches and blocked roads can help prevent such vandalism, the deputy said.

Singh, who also owns agricultural land in Fresno and Madera, said the damage he encountered in Sutter County is a first.

"Nobody ever did this," he said. "I just hope it's mischief."

Larry Munger, a ranch owner in the community of Sutter, and a county supervisor since 1995, said youths who run vehicles through farmland call the practice "mudding."

"They think it's a cool thing," he said. "We're going to have to put a halt to it."

Parents should cover the costs of damage If the perpetrators are underage, Munger said.

"It's not cheap," he said of the costs connected to vandalism.

Megan Foster, executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau, said such crimes hit agriculture hard.

"Hopefully that's not a trend," Foster said. "That's a significant investment for a grower.

"I have to think that the people who are committing that kind of vandalism," she added, "just see a tree and don't see ownership."

But people own orchards and the damages come with a cost, Foster noted.

Four thousand walnut trees were planted this year on the property and replaced prune trees on the land, Singh said. Demand is strong for nut crops including walnuts and pistachios. Rising middle-class incomes in China and India, where walnuts are popular and California crops seen as premium quality, have helped fuel demand, the grower said.

Singh said the vandalism doesn't diminish his affection for agriculture.

"I love farming," he said. "It's fascinating.

"It is a lot of work," Singh added.

CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at rmccarthy@appealdemocrat.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.


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