Firebaugh, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Central Valley farmers are letting their crops die amid the ongoing drought and record-breaking heat this summer. On Fresno County’s west side, thousands of acres of almond trees are being removed because the water supply isn’t there.
Farmer Joe del Bosque says he and his neighbors are sacrificing orchards. Almond trees are getting yanked out and then ground up later.
Del Bosque says they’re letting some crops die to save others.
“Just within about 2- or 3-miles radius of my farm, there’s probably at least 2,000 or 3,000 acres of almonds that are being pulled out,” he said, adding that it takes a good amount of water to grow almonds.
“They’re trees, so they need water from February all the way to November, where some crops like melons only require water for two and a half months.” He continued.
He’s sacrificing one of his two cherry orchards this year. He hasn’t watered 40 acres of trees since May.
“They’re dying. If we had water, we could probably bring them back to life.”
That’s translating into more job cuts.
“When we cut back on our acreage on melons, this year we probably have half of the people we had two years ago working in our melon harvest.”
Del Bosque says they’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
“It’s very difficult to prepare, we don’t know what we’re going to have as far as rain goes this winter. We don’t know what our water supply will be. But we gotta be ready to plant if we do have water, so we are preparing land to plant melons.”
Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled an $8 billion dollar plan to boost water supply. The four main goals include creating more storage of stormwater, recycling wastewater, using new and more efficient conservation techniques, and desalination of more seawater to convert it into fresh supply.
“We’re very concerned about the future of agriculture here in California because our water supply is very unreliable,” said del Bosque.
The farmer says he continues using water conservation techniques, like drip irrigation, but even that is not enough.