Nut Growers Dealing With Drought

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jack Mariani grows almonds and walnuts in the rural Yolo County town of Winters, about 30 miles west of Sacramento.

On Insight with Beth Ruyak, Mariani said he and other ranchers are drilling more ground water wells to deal with the lack of rain.

"Farmers are just more worried than ever about this water problem and we're seeing, on our own ranches and many of our neighbors' ranches, new wells going in every week."

"We've even heard that some almond growers are considering knocking the crop off their trees," said Mariani, "and just trying to let the tree survive to get to another year or future years. So even with the record prices that we're seeing right now, the short term situation is dire."

Historically in California, nut trees used less water than row crops such as tomatoes. But today, walnut, almond and pistachio crops are grown in much higher density and require more irrigation.

"The big concern is going forward," said Mariani. "If we don't get the proper water and the trees start to suffer, we'll see the evidence of that effect in the future crops."

California's annual almond crop is valued at $5 billion, walnuts are more than $1.5 billion and pistachios are just over $1 billion. 





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