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Why California grows so many almonds

Over the past several months, there has been quite the finger pointing and blame on agriculture for water use. Farmers have been depicted as an evil villain. Almonds specifically are being targeted and shamed. I find it odd that farmers are being blamed for water use. Not just because I am a farmer, but because I am a consumer. And last time I checked, so was everyone else. We all consume the food that farmers grow. But instead of thanking the farmers for growing our food, we are blaming them for using too much water. Suddenly, everyone is now an expert on farming and think they all know best on what inputs crops need.

In most articles and stories I have read over the past several months, farmers aren't even given a chance to defend ourselves or provide our side of the story. Honestly, I am tired of defending myself and why almond farmers use water. Everything uses water, all food needs water to grow, all people need water to live, all organisms need water to thrive. We all may be a little wasteful from time to time, but no one is pumping water just for the fun of it. I guess that's what I don't understand. Do these blammers actually believe farmers are just wasting water for the heck of it? We pay for our resources, we pay for resources we don't receive,
we eat our crops, we sell our crops to make a profit. Why would we be wasteful?

Farmers have turned to all types of irrigation efficiency models to help them cut back on water usage.To be honest, we have to. And we had to invest in it a long time ago. Those that didn't look at water efficiency years ago, aren't around today. They ran out of water, lost their crops and aren't able to farm anymore.

But I am tired of telling this story again and again. We farm to feed people. We grow the crops we grow, because they are best suited for our land. Some think California shouldn't even be growing almonds in the first place. We are a desert, a desert shouldn't be growing food. Some say, they are going to boycott California food all together. I would tell them they need a lesson in California agriculture. Well let me educate you on why California is home to 99% of all almonds grown in the United States and 85% of all almonds grown in the world. 

California is home to one of the few Mediterranean climates in the world. Well, you know how everyone likes to visit California for the sunny weather and mild cool winters? That is the same reason almonds like it here too. California's Central Valley generally have mild winters with foggy days allowing trees to reach dormancy periods and enjoy a winter rest. But these trees can't be too cold for too long because they bloom in early February and wake up for spring. I don't think almonds would like the cold mid western snowy winters or the blizzards of the North East. The California mild winters are perfect for them.

It isn't just the California winter that is pleasing to almonds though. The California summers are hot and sunny allowing the almonds plenty of days to produce almonds in the sunshine. Almonds enjoy the sun, but it is gets too hot it will roast the almonds, so those Arizona 120 degree days would kill an almond tree. Trust me, I had a cousin in Bullhead City try to grow a few almonds trees a couple years ago....they didn't last through the summer. California summers are such right!

California is lucky to have the perfect combination of mild winters and dry summers to help almonds thrive. We are blessed to be able to find such a great fit for almonds to grow in. Other countries have tried and while some other Mediterranean countries are able to produce almonds, none do it quite as well as California. So let me know how easy it is for you to find those non-California almonds. You will be searching for a long, long time.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

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