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California drought prompts some farmers to rip out water-intensive almond trees

Thursday, September 9th 2021, 4:38 pm - Conditions are expected to worsen throughout the summer.

California is in the midst of yet another drought, and it's begun to put pressure on farmers, Reuters reports.

In response, some have begun ripping up their water-intensive almond trees, a practice that appears to be happening on a relatively large scale. In the Central Valley, one farmer alone had 600 acres of almond orchard removed and destroyed, with plans to replace them with less water-intensive crops.

“It’s not a decision any farmer wants to make,” almond farmer Tom Butler told the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re in survival mode.”


drought monitor California's drought status as of May 27, 2021. (U.S. Drought Monitor)

Last week, a statewide drought monitor reported 26 per cent of California is in an "exceptional drought," which is the worst category. Half of the state is an "extreme drought," the second-worst category, while the remainder is in a drought.

The federal government has slashed water deliveries to cities by more than 50 per cent and cut water rations to farm-irrigation districts in Central Valley to zero, SF Gate reports. That's down from the 5 per cent allocation doled out to farmers in February.

Officials are now turning their attention to the fire risk, given the record-breaking season California experienced in 2020. Last summer, fire destroyed more than 1.6 million hectares of land and 10,000 structures. Thirty-one people died as a result of the fires which sparked under dry, but not official drought, conditions.

Thumbnail image: File photo (Dan Gold/UnSplash).

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