Farmers let their crops die amid drought, record heat

Firebaugh, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Farmers in the Central Valley are letting their crops die amid ongoing drought and record heat this summer. On the west side of Fresno County, thousands of acres of almond trees are being removed because the water supply is not there.

Farmer Joe del Bosque says he and his neighbors are sacrificing orchards. The almond trees are uprooted and then crushed later.

Del Bosque says they let some cultures die to save others.

“Within about 2 or 3 miles of my farm, there’s probably at least 2,000 or 3,000 acres of almonds being pulled up,” he said, adding that it takes a good amount water to grow almonds.

“These are trees, so they need water from February to November, while some crops like melons only need water for two and a half months.” He continued.

He is sacrificing one of his two cherry orchards this year. He hasn’t watered 40 acres of trees since May.

” They die. If we had water, we could probably bring them back to life.

This translates into more job cuts.

“When we reduced our melon acreage this year, we probably have half the people we had two years ago working in our melon crop.”

Del Bosque says they are 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 in the rain this winter. We don’t know what our water supply will be. But we must be ready to plant if we have water, so we prepare the ground for planting melons.

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled an $8 billion plan to boost water supplies. The four main goals include creating more stormwater storage, recycling wastewater, using new and more efficient conservation techniques, and desalinating more seawater to convert it into fresh supply. .

“We are very concerned about the future of agriculture here in California because our water supply is very unreliable,” del Bosque said.

The farmer says he continues to use water conservation techniques, like drip irrigation, but even that is not enough.

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