Thursday, July 17, 2014

"California Almonds Saved by Diverting Water From Veggies"

If you are new to this stuff, in the U.S. there are farm subsidies for row crops (corn, wheat, soybeans) but not for vegetables. In California small scale (1-3 acre) specialty vegetable plots can generate $25,000 per acre but are also very costly. If you have more land than that almonds are really the cash crop of choice.
From Bloomberg:
Farmers in California, the source of 80 percent of the world’s almonds, are rescuing the nut from drought this year by diverting water used for vegetable crops and drilling more wells to keep trees hydrated.

Instead of the 2.5 percent output drop forecast in May that helped spark a rally in almond prices to an all-time high, the U.S. government now expects a 4.5 percent rise in production to a record 2.1 billion pounds (950,000 metric tons).

“Some way or another, a majority of people have proceeded to come up with enough water” for the 2014 crop, which farmers will start harvesting at the end of this month, said Bob Weimer, 68, who began irrigating his 200 acres in Merced County in December, three months early, and added a 12th well. “We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for the next one.”

The efforts were necessary to combat a severe drought in California, the nation’s biggest agricultural producer, where little rain is forecast by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center until October or November. Even with the farmers’ changed tactics, prices for the nut consumed often as a snack food and used to make Hershey Co.’s Almond Joy candy and WhiteWave Foods Co.’s Silk almond milk have stayed elevated.
Almonds are fetching more than $3 per pound, heading for an annual average that would top the all-time high of $2.81 in 2006, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Almond Board data show...MUCH MORE 
Trading the California Drought: Almonds and Water
A Higher Yielding Alternative to Corn and Wheat: "Agriculture Investors Develop a Taste for Permanent Crops"
Straight Talk on Weather and Climate: "Will California's Drought Bring About $7 Broccoli?"
Projected Price Increases For Foods Affected By the California Drought
California Drought: Why Farmers Are 'Exporting Water' to China  
El Nino Won't Come Quick Enough To Break the California Drought