San Joaquin Valley Almond Farmers Forced to Uproot Orchards

On February 23, 2014, in an Associated Press article by Scott Smith we learned that …

Almond Farmers Are Uprooting Crops Prematurely Due To Skyrocketing Water Costs

Fresno Bee_Almond Tree

FIREBAUGH — With California entrenched in drought, San Joaquin Valley almond farmers are letting orchards dry up and in some cases making the tough call to have their trees torn out of the ground, leaving behind empty fields.

Baker, 54, of Firebaugh-based Baker Farming Company, has decided to remove 20% of his trees before they have passed their prime. There’s simply not enough water to satisfy all 5,000 acres of almonds, he said.

“Hopefully, I don’t have to pull out another 20%,” Baker said, adding that sooner or later neighboring farmers will come to the same conclusion. “They’re hoping for the best. I don’t think it’s going to come.”

Some of California’s Most Valued Crops Are In Danger

Almonds and other nuts are among the most high-value crops in the Valley — the biggest producer of such crops in the country. In 2012, California’s almond crop had an annual value of $5 billion. This year farmers say the dry conditions are forcing them to make difficult decisions.

Gov. Jerry Brown last month declared a drought emergency after the state’s driest year in recorded history.

San Joaquin Farmers Face Tough Decisions

Fresno Bee Article

William Bourdeau, executive vice president of Harris Farms based in Coalinga, said he and his colleagues within the next 30 days will have to confront the hard decision about scaling back their almond orchards.

They’ve already decided not to plant 9,000 acres of vegetables — including 3,000 acres of lettuce that would have produced 72 million heads and generated 700,000 hours of work.

Next, they may rip out 1,000 acres of almonds, a permanent crop, Bourdeau said.

To read this complete article in it’s original post, please visit the Associated Press site.

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