Knowing the Water Needs of An Almond Orchard

Knowing the Water Needs of An Almond Orchard

Patrick Cavanaugh
Patrick Cavanaugh
Water's the biggest input in growing almonds and other tree crops. But there are lots to consider, especially with different soil types.

Bill Brush is CEO with B&B Ag Consulting based in Modesto.

“I’ve worked with growers for a lot of years and one grower, I remember making the statement a long time ago saying ‘I don't put anything in until I know whether I got a crop or not,’” said Brush. “And I told him, well, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. You're not going to have the crop, if you wait to find out, if you've got the crop. By that time, the pollination set, it's all taken place. And now all you're doing is worrying about next year,” noted Bush.

“I've seen people in the past try to reduce your irrigation by up to say, an acre-foot per acre, to try to save money,” noted Bush.

Bush said the problem with that is that there's been a lot of research regarding that cutting back on water idea.

“Guess what they found consistently? A number that I remember was over a 10-year period, the average yield reduction was 800 pounds per acre. And that's just from moving down somewhere around 55 inches to about 43 inches, a one-acre foot difference,” he noted.

“The only difference it was done in the entire 10-year study was the reduction in water. So, you can see water's always been critical. I tell her all the time, the guy that irrigates best is usually the winner in yield. It’s the number one input. It's number one by volume. It's number one of importance. Water is everything,” he said.

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