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Is the almond cart currently ahead of the water wagon?


Table of Contents:

  • What happens when there is no water for California's permanent crops?


What’s with all the new almond orchards being planted during a drought?

There’s a sincere irony in people’s tone of voice when they ask that. It’s not combative; they want to know. The discussion has even moved to those in the agricultural community since they know, if anyone, how much water permanent crops need to survive.

I was recently interviewed on Valley Public Radio in Fresno, Calif. The question came up there too. It also came up during my interview with a university researcher who commented on a new almond orchard on land that has been traditionally planted in row crop rotation.

The irony wasn’t lost on the Sacramento Bee when it published a story under the headline “California almond farmers, lured by high profits to expand orchards, face a drought struggle.”

The article raises the issue of California’s almond explosion in the San Joaquin Valley, where water supplies are no longer reliable due in large part to regulatory issues and the Endangered Species Act. A similar planting explosion is underway in the Sacramento Valley, but water supplies there are slightly better and winter rains tend to be more plentiful than in the south.

Yes, almonds are a popular crop. Credit the Almond Board of California for that. They’ve done the heavy lifting to improve demand for almonds as a healthy snack nut and food ingredient by helping growers consistently turn a profit and handlers, large and small, improve their bottom lines.

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