From: Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published September 12, 2014 08:40 AM

California Drought: Why Farmers Must Adapt

The entire state of California is in a drought. A big part of the state, including the fertile Central Valley, is experiencing the worst category of drought, exceptional. California supplies much of the fruits, vegetables and nuts the nation eats. In inland areas such as the Central Valley, as well as the combined Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, agriculture truly rules.

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While people in Southern California and the Bay Area are largely insulated from the effects of the drought, people in the Central Valley are being hit hard. Some wells in the town of Easton, the small farming community in Fresno County where I was raised, are going dry; and two businesses have closed as a result. Meanwhile, farmers are resorting to over-pumping groundwater. They have no choice. They want to survive. America wants to eat.

Agriculture takes up 80 percent of the state's water supply. Some crops need more water than others. Tree crops, for example, need more water than vineyards. Almonds are one tree crop that is experiencing great growth, fueled in part by studies that show the health benefits of eating almonds and past drops in the price of raisins. As a result, almonds are California's largest export; state farmers grow 80 percent of the world’s supply, and 99 percent of all almonds grown in the U.S. hail from California. However, the drought is certain to affect the almond industry. As an opinion piece by Market Watch points out, "This unprecedented drought threatens to slam the brakes on one of the state's fastest-growing crops and biggest moneymakers." When the 2014-2015 crop goes to market next year, consumers will certainly be hit with higher almond prices.

Drought, water efficiency and California agriculture

The California drought highlights the need for more efficient uses of water by the agricultural sector, including the almond industry. No one knows when this drought will end, but even when it does, Californians, and farmers in particular, must remember that California is prone to droughts. Another drought will come along. The key for the survival of California agriculture is for farmers to adapt. Developing ways to more efficiently use water will enable farmers to effectively cope with water shortages.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, TriplePundit.

Drought image via Shutterstock.

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