California almonds are standing their ground

Jul 21, 2014

One way or another, most California almond farmers are managing to keep their orchards irrigated this year, reported Megan Durisin on

In the article, Merced County farmer Bob Weimer said he added a 12th well to draw water from the aquifer for his thirsty trees. Many farmers have opted to leave fallow fields where annual crops like tomatoes, onions and garlic are usually grown in order to save water for almonds.

"The first thing we have to take care of is our permanent crops," said Dan Errotabere, who helps farm 960 acres of almonds in Fresno and Kings counties.

Durisin quoted David Doll, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Merced County, as saying that orchards need the most water during the warmest summer months, so they may not be able to hit the USDA's almond production forecast for 2014. Next year's crop will be at significant risk if the drought continues, Doll said. Farmers may not able to continue deepening wells and drilling new ones.

The article touched on the grave warning about groundwater depletion in California, which UC scientists shared this month in a special edition of California Agriculture journal that focuses on water efficiency.

There is some good news this year for almond farmers, however. Almond prices are currently at $3 per pound and the average price for the season may beat the all-time high set in 2006.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist