Skip to main content

Is California Sucking the Almond Industry Dry?


The following article is about Almond Production in California 
and the amount of water needed. 

This article is very timely as Soil Secrets Soil Ecology products are being used by California's Almond producers proving to help with the water problem while also helping to produce good crops using less water.


Is California Sucking the Almond Industry Dry?

Almond Trees, farming, drought, trees
 (AP Photo/Russel A. Daniels, File)
If you don’t live in California, the serious drought—which is now in its fourth painstaking year—may not affect your everyday life. But you are probably eating their almonds. The state produces 80% of the world’s almonds and the industry has been taking the brunt of the water shortage ever since.
“Blame game doesn’t help. Yes, it takes about one gallon of water to produce one almond. And, it also takes 1.4 gallons of water to produce two olives. And, four glasses of milk needs about 143 gallons of water to produce. Should we stop making milk in California too? Where does it end?” says Dr. Harinder Grewal, Senior Agricultural Inspector for the Department of Agriculture at Stanislaus County, California.
California produces nearly half of all U.S. grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. But the real money maker is almond production which contributes over 100,000 jobs and $11 billion to the state’s economy, according to the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.
Janet Daniel, an almond farmer who runs J.D. Almond Farms in California, says it’s been very frustrating to read reports that they’re to blame for the drought.
“A lot of the reports are inaccurate and extremely misleading. This is a food product that is very important. Yes, it takes water to produce it, but nothing goes to waste. It’s a 100% contained product. We have everything computerized. Every drop of water is calculated,” says Daniels, whose farm produces over 1.5 million pounds of almonds a year.
“All of California has been impacted by this historic drought, but as conversation about the drought has progressed, there have been claims about almonds and agriculture more generally that lack context, or are blatantly wrong,” says Robert Curtis, Director of Agricultural Affairs at the Almond Board of California.
“The crop about to be harvested is estimated to be down 4% from last year’s crop, which was down from the year before that.  Drought and water stress can impact almond tree growth and crop productivity for a 2-4 year period, after the stress subsides,” says Curtis.
According to Grewal, California has only had about 4.3 inches of rain so far this year (last measured on May 31st).
“The situation we’re in is scary but the good thing it that it wakes people up. We need to plan for the long term. California depends on agriculture. We all need food and we can’t depend on food from other countries. This is a national security issue,” adds Grewal.
According to the Public Policy Institute of California, agriculture uses about  41% of California’s total water supply – not 80% as often quoted.
“Farmers are used to getting 30-40 inches of water, now they get 18-20 inches. Most farmers lost 50% of their water supply,” says Grewal.
The Almond Board of California says that in 2014, the drought has cost farmers $1.5 billion dollars and the loss of more than 17,000 jobs.
Steve Knell, a General Manager at the Oakdale Irrigation District says it’s important for people to realize that it takes a lot of water to keep our mouths full.
“It takes about 1 million gallons of water per year to sustain a family of 4 in America. If you want to help reduce the water resource shortfall we face in this drought I think you have two choices: either stop watering the lawn or stop eating.”
Grewal says we need to stop pointing fingers and look for more long and short-term solutions instead.
“We’re in trouble but we can’t stop growing things. We need to find ways to conserve water and educate people instead of blaming anyone. Almonds bring revenue. We need to protect this industry. Poor leadership in the past has gotten us in this situation and we need to find solutions to get out of it," says Grewal.
Follow Jade Scipioni on Twitter @jadescipioni


Michael Martin Meléndrez
Managing Member of Soil Secrets LLC
505 550-3246

www.soilsecrets.com

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Growing Pecan Trees in Western Alkaline Soil

It's common to see nutrient and water inhibition compromise the production of pecans in the arid western states, particularly where the soils are high pH, which can tie up nutrients such as zinc, iron, phosphorus and more. Keeping soils moist is also a problem because the regions were we grow pecan are not wet bottomland soils where pecan is native, but are high and dry desert soils where irrigation is essential. If the irrigation water is high in dissolved solids, the problem is made worse. There are many good things Soil Secrets can offer pecan growers that can overcome these obstacles, by improving the moisture management of the soil, improving nutrient solutioning and availability of both the native minerals as well as the purchased minerals, and improving the porosity of the soil so that water and oxygen can penetrate meters deep without the need to subsoil with machinery. How's this done? By using the power of Nature's own bio-chemical called the Carbon Matrix. Starti

How does nitrogen work in the soil and where does it come from when we don't have a bag of fertilizer to supplement it?

I've spoken many times on this subject at conferences and it was the main theme of my talk when I represented North America at the World's 1st Humus Experts Meeting in Vienna Austria back in 2013.   Most of the Nitrogen used by the vast tropical rain forests, or the fastest growing biomass place on Earth, the Coastal Redwood Forests of California, comes from the production of protein by the Free-Living Nitrogen Fixing bacteria in soil and the massive biomass structure of the mycorrhizal fungi.    The proteins as it breaks down in the soil into amino acids are the building blocks of life and the explanation of the Soil Food Web.  However, in order for those amino acids to enter a plant and be part of the nitrogen budget of the plant they must have the assistance of the mycorrhizal fungi.  It's much more efficient for a plant to uptake amino acids whose molecules include nitrogen needed to build tissues than to uptake just nitrogen minus the amino acid.   The problem with dep

Fertilizers formulated for alkaline soils of the Southwest

Recently I was in an Albuquerque retail nursery where a fertilizer was being sold that stated it was formulated for alkaline soils of the Southwest.  It contained high levels of iron and sulfur, plus the N, P and K major nutrients.  Do any of the readers care to comment on this type of product?    Pros, Cons, etc.  I have my take on it, but I'll entertain what you want to say about it.  Michael Martin Meléndrez