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Almond farmers relying on groundwater to cope with drought

California has emerged as the world's almond orchard because of near-perfect conditions for the crop, but in terms of production, it may have hit its peak, reported Jennifer Rankin in The Guardian.

"The future for farming almonds in California will always be there," said David Doll, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Merced County. "It is more about coming into balance with our water resources."

The story quoted from a UC report that California farmers have spent an extra $500 million this year pumping extra water to cope with the drought.

Co-author of the study, Richard Howitt, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, cautioned against singling out particular crops.

"Don't blame almonds for the problem," he said. "The problem is one of water mismanagement."

He suggested changes in how California manages water so farmers monitor their groundwater use and replenish supplies when there is more rain.

"[The farmers] should be repaying what they are taking. And if they are taking more, as they always are in droughts, then they should be making plans to repay it back in wet years. If you treat your groundwater the way you treat your retirement account, then everything would be OK."

More information about water stress in almonds may be found in David Doll's blog, The Almond Doctor.

Leaves dying and dropping early in a Merced County almond orchard most likely due to water stress.. (Photo: James Nichols)

 

Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Tags: Almonds (65), David Doll (26), drought (171), Richard Howitt (12)

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