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- Despite a slow start, due to unusually cool growing conditions earlier in the year, Friedenbach/Turmon Farms’ almond trees fared well this past season.
- Overall, the 2011 crop was about 10 percent larger than the year before, although nut size was a little smaller. Nonpareil yields, which were down in 2010, were outstanding this season.
- Vertical integration means that he and his partners can control the quality of the almonds and improve efficiencies along each step of the way, from planting the trees to getting paid for delivering the final product. What he like best about this business, though, is the farming.
Mark Turmon, owner/administrator of Sierra Valley Almonds, at the company’s processing facility near Kerman, Calif.
Turmon is also concerned about having enough water in the coming years to irrigate California’s almond orchards, especially those on the West Side. “The water situation is always in the forefront of every California grower’s mind,” he says. That concern has been heightened for 2012 following one of the driest Decembers in history.
Several years ago, because of tight supplies of surface water, he paid $400 an acre-foot to carry water over from the previous season for his 2009 almond crop. He also spent $600,000 in the winter of 2008-2009 to drill a 1,500-foot well to supplement his surface water deliveries. In 2010, he was able to provide enough water for all of his crops, except for one field, which he left fallow. Thanks to the drought-breaking snows last winter and the rains this past season, Turmon had all the water he needed for his 2011 crops.
“Concerns about California’s water supplies have been going on for years, but the state hasn’t built a dam or reservoir for more than four decades,” he says. “This past year all the reservoirs were full. If we had additional capacity, we could have saved a lot of water that ended up in the ocean. And now, we’re hearing talk of putting meters on our wells to regulate how much groundwater we can pump.”
The situation continues to impact his cropping and farming decisions. “Because we don’t have a stable supply of water, we haven’t made any permanent plantings for the past five years,” Turmon says. “If we’re going to take the risks of producing a crop, we need some assurance that will have a reliable water supply for the long term.”