Water Availability Taking a Toll
Water is on top of everyone’s minds in California agriculture, especially this year. Here are a couple of water-related updates from throughout the state brought to you by the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Productive orchards are being removed in the Central Valley, as farmers cope with severe water shortages prompted by drought and water-system limitations. One Fresno County farmer says he’s pulling out almost 400 acres of almond trees. Federal and state water projects say they will provide little to no irrigation water to many agricultural customers, so farmers must calculate how much food they can grow with their limited supplies.
Lack of water will mean reduced rice production in the Sacramento Valley. This is the time of year when farmers plant rice, but analysts believe acreage will be down about 20% because of water restrictions. In some cases, rice farmers will leave land idle in order to transfer part of their water supply to users in other regions. Although acreage will be down, rice planting has proceeded smoothly due to favorable spring weather.
Measuring snow, and forecasting how much may be available for future water supply, has taken on increasing importance—and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will invest $2.5 million in improving its ability to assess the snowpack. One project looks at better ways to measure snow in the San Joaquin River watershed.
(Source: California Farm Bureau Federation}