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The California Drought and Implications for Fresh Produce

May 30, 2014
California DroughtYou may have heard about the water crisis in California. According to the US drought monitor, 100% of California is covered in the top three worst classifications of drought. When most people imagine drought, they attribute it to a lack of rain. While that may be one contributor, it certainly isn't all of it.

Parts of California, such as the San Joaquin Valley, depend largely on run off water from the snow melt in the mountains to fill the lakes and reservoirs that in turn are used for crops. From there, farmers get allocations to use the water. This year, the lakes high water mark is at 50% of its normal amount, and farmers are getting anywhere from 5-30% of the normal allocations for their fields. There is a huge lack of water for both the permanent and seasonal crops. 

As a result of the limited supply, farmers are dropping fruit from their trees to help preserve water the tree uses, without actually harvesting. Yields are expected to be down 30-40% this year. And, furthermore, if the trees aren't taken care of this year, there won’t be a crop for next year. The implications here are huge for tree fruit in both the short and long term.

The Salinas deal, on the other hand, hasn't been affected quite as much. They depend on well water rather than run off or rain, and are a bit more secure. Although, if there is another bad winter, next year will be rough. So while the growers in Salinas may be groaning about the drought, but it’s due more to the higher cost of water as opposed to the shortage. At this point, no one is rationing, and the situation doesn't feel as critical. 
 

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