Skip to comments.Almonds Not the State's Worst Water Offender
Posted on 05/13/2015 10:01:38 PM PDT by nickcarraway
The California almond is getting a bad reputation.
At least thats what the numbers show. According to an April report released by the Pacific Institute, a non-profit research firm based in Oakland, almonds are not the most water intensive crop grown in the Golden State.
In fact, almonds tie with pistachios for fourth place in the ranking of Californias water intensive crops and require on average four acre-feet of water per acre. One acre-foot is approximately 326,000 gallons of water. Alfalfa and rice are the top two water users, averaging five acre-feet of water per acre a piece, though alfalfa can sometimes take up to six acre-feet.
The report was released amidst an historic state drought and widespread concern over how the state will utilize a limited water supply. Critics have started searching for a scapegoat, and the California almond is bearing the brunt of the blame.
Thats not to say that almonds arent water hungry. Since the story first broke last year, several in-depth reports have highlighted just how much water the California almond is consuming and the myriad ways in which farmers have had to adapt to meet the crops demands despite a dwindling water source.
California is the main supplier of fruits, nuts and vegetables nationwide, so its no surprise that 80 percent of the developed water supply here is consumed by agriculture. Almonds use only 8 percent of that agricultural water, according to the Almond Board of California.
These trees produce very valuable crops, both economically and also nutritionally, said Dennis Baldocchi, a biometerologist at the University of California, Berkeley who grew up on an almond farm. This is why almonds shouldnt be demonized as they are. I guess the biggest question we need to ask our society is how many acres and how many tons of almonds do we need given the precious water that we have statewide? he added.
While almonds spend in water, they return in revenue, according to the most recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture.
California is now the worlds leading producer of almonds, and the nut is the second highest grossing agricultural commodity in the state. Almonds brought in nearly $6 billion in 2013, the USDAs reports show. The total revenue for state agriculture that same year was $38.7 billion.
Almonds are making more money because the state is now growing more of them. The acreage of land used to farm almonds nearly doubled in the past decade. Other, more water intensive crops like alfalfa still use more real estate than almonds.
And those crops arent as lucrative as almonds, according to the Pacific Institute report. Data compiled for that report show that almonds earn around $1100 per acre-foot of water used, while alfalfa earns only $175. Alfalfa is used, though, to feed Californias cows, which play a major role in the dairy industrythe states highest grossing agricultural commodity. Milk and cream grossed nearly $8 billion in 2013.
Berkeleys Dennis Baldocchi said hed like to change in the script on almonds, turning what has become a scapegoat crop into a larger lesson for the states future in agriculture.
Solutions to this problem are more complex than simple bromides, he told NBC Bay Area. Almonds are bad. Almonds are good. We have to really think more carefully about what crops we want to grow, how much water theyll use and what are the true costs of this.
Do we now have to blame almonds? Are they racist almonds? Do they deny opportunities to people of color? Do those almonds wish they were on a white man’s plantation or the poor hardscrabble 40 acres of a freed slave being harvested by a mule the slave got as reparations?
I really can’t get any sicker of this crap. Why don’t we instead act like adults and plan for a state that (gasp!) uses water and waters lawns with it and grows foods with it? Or are we better off blaming something we don’t like?
California’s suffering a self-inflicted drought. It’s no coincidence that once their stupid green laws got enacted they started suffering droughts.
Allow the infrastructure to be expanded and stop using water for stupid environmental projects.
isn’t it almendra in the central valley?
Where do grapes fit in the water usage? They are everywhere in Northern and central California to the Livermore Valley and beyond, Everyday see new Vineyards of them.
Well, that’s just nuts.
It’s Cher and Streisand.
As long as we have grocery stores, we don’t need farmers.
‘Cause they shake the “l” out of them to get them out of the tree?
Hey, we need to keep selling our alfalfa and rice.Those two crops help pay the bills and keep thousands of Californians (both legal and illegal) employed.
Now I’m wanting an Almond Joy candy bar. Two mounds of milk chocolate with shredded coconut inside.
That’s what I heard.
You got that right!
I would think California politicians and celebutards are the worst water offenders.
kill the almond!!!!
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