Almonds Swept California Farms. Then the Water Ran Out.
Drought-stricken farmers pull out almond orchards, scrap planting plans: ‘We’re grinding up trees as we speak’.
California’s current drought came on fast, and not long after the previous one ended, forcing some almond farmers to bulldoze thousands of acres’ worth of orchards that cannot be irrigated.
The drought, which began last year, has spread across nearly all of the western U.S. Combined with looming restrictions on groundwater usage, it is prompting a reckoning in California’s $6 billion almond industry, which grows about 80% of the world’s supply. The situation is reshaping the state’s food sector, forcing farmers to reassess which crops they will have the water to produce, and where. It is also challenging food-company executives tasked with keeping grocery store shelves filled when reservoirs or wells run dry.