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Friday, June 26, 2015

Worries for the future

Almond harvest is just around the corner. Hull split is here and the countdown to harvest is officially on. Hull split is pretty early this year, about 2 weeks earlier than normal. Last year, we had hull split at the end of June and we thought it was pretty early then and this year is turning out to be even earlier than last year.  

Why are the nuts earlier? Well, with the drought getting worse and worse our trees are more and more water stressed. When the trees don't get enough water, they don't produce as well and could even die from too little or no water.

With the low amounts of water we have, irrigation is harder and harder to do effectively.  Our trees are being cut back. In fact, all farmers are cut back to a zero allocation of surface water from federal water projects. The state is implementing regulations to monitor groundwater pumping, an ever more necessary resource to agriculture production. With the threat of limiting our pumping from our own supply under our own soil, farmers are scared to know what they will have left to irrigate with.

So with all of the water problems farmers face this harvest has become exceptionally important for so many us. We must be able to harvest all we can and hope for good yields and prices. For many farmers, if the trees don't produce well they will have to taken out or just barely grown for the following year. Permanent crops are different than vegetable and field crops, we can't just stop irrigating them this year and plant a crop next year to make money. If we don't irrigate well this year, our trees will suffer and could die, which leaves us several years of recovery time to plant a new orchard or rehabilitate an existing.

With hull split starting our countdown to harvest, farmers are preparing for a harvest they hope will pay the bills and bring them some profit. Expenses are adding up more and more for farmers in times of drought. With increased water costs for decreased water supply it is getting harder and harder to predict the future of farming in California.


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

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