“Some growers are pumping 100 percent of their water this year,” he says. “Unless they have really good quality well water, they’re probably going to have same salt problems this year. We’re not seeing any symptoms of salt toxicity yet. But, it’s still early in the season. It takes time for salt levels to build up in the tree and get released into the leaves.”
In voicing his frustration with what little, if any, surface water growers in his area are likely to receive this season, Anderson points to the substantial investment they have made in the last decade or so in precision irrigation technologies. They include installation of inline drip and micro sprinkler systems in their orchards and underground drip tape in their row crops.
“Growers know how to save water,” Anderson says. “They’re working really hard to stretch what water they do have to, at least, get by. But, you can only deficit irrigate for only so long before yields really take a hit. Growers are reaching the limits of how much water they can save and still keep their trees alive.”
While acknowledging nature’s role in California’s ongoing drought, he puts much of the blame for current water shortages on elected officials.
“Are they trying to destroy California’s agriculture?” he wonders. “The water situation is as bad as I’ve ever seen it. But, this didn’t have to happen. It’s the result of how the state’s water resources are being managed. If growers don’t get the water supplies they need next year, it will be a really tough deal. It will also impact everyone associated with agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s kind of scary.”