We have all read the stories about California’s devastating drought and have wished rain their way. Along with that rain, maybe we should send them some almonds.
California produces 80% of the world’s supply of one of our favorite nuts and demand for almonds is as high as ever because of the numerous health benefits that can be obtained from them. Since people want this product more than ever, farmers are going to keep growing it. In light of the state’s serious drought situation, all eyes are on farmers to determine if they could be doing anything different.
Farmers insist that almonds do not use any more water than other crops, but attention remains on the almond. Due to this, more efforts to conserve water are being taken in orchards such as using microsprinklers and drip lines. Both of these options use less water than flood irrigation.
Last month, the Almond Board of California, along with Sustainable Conservation, announced a project that will determine if almond orchards could be the answer to California’s drought woes. These nuts have become the crop to blame for the state’s drought because of the large amount of water it takes for them to grow (about a gallon of water per nut). This statistic has made headlines, so the nut is taking the blame. While it is true that this crop needs more water than alfalfa to grow, it doesn’t necessitate any more than various fruits and vegetables.
Despite some negative press, almonds will end up helping California manage its groundwater levels in the end. In 2014, the state implemented a groundwater regulation that farmers must have a plan to use on their crops by 2020. It is the hope that by 2040, California will have its groundwater at a sustainable level.
There is more to look forward to this winter besides the holiday season for California and its farmers. El Niño, the weather phenomenon that is responsible for more extreme seasons, could help produce more rain and snow in the area, which will lead to more runoff and, thus, more water for California and its crops. Since this runoff water isn’t the best quality for the trees, the empty reservoirs leave room for the additional expected runoff. There is such an influx of water expected that there will be releases from the aquifers to make room for the winter water. More groundwater is great news for California, but this amount of it should make both residents and almond farmers especially happy.