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Drought: Stressed Citrus Trees And Higher Costs

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Citrus growers in California's Central Valley say fewer trees are producing fruit, so the  price of citrus could increase at the grocery store. But, farmer's costs have skyrocketed because of the drought.

Zack Stuller is a grower in Exeter. He says he hasn't received water from the  Central Valley Water Project in two years.

He has spent $2,000 per acre-foot for water from distant agencies and $70,000 to dig a well for six-acres of lemons.

"For the amount of acres that's there, doesn't pencil. But, I'm not going down without a fight. I'm gonna keep my trees alive."

On Insight with Beth Ruyak, Stuller says his trees are stressed but are still producing fruit.

"Think of a citrus tree as running a marathon. It runs all year and you're giving it the water that it needs. But, if we don't have any water next year or if we don't give it the amount of water that it truly needs, it might produce a good crop that we're gonna get a price for this year. Next year, that poor tree isn't going to produce."

There is no guarantee of water allocations next year, even if California has average or above-average rainfall.

California Citrus Mutual is a grower's group. It estimates 20,000-to-25,000 acres of citrus trees in California will be removed this year.


Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob is the Sacramento Region Reporter. He has been at the forefront of the coverage of the Sacramento Kings' saga and the effort to build a new arena in Sacramento. He also covers education, business, environment, and sports stories.   Read Full Bio 

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