Christine Gemperle is about to do what almond farmers fear the most: rip out her trees early.
Water is so scarce on her orchard in California’s Central Valley that she’s been forced to let a third of her acreage go dry. In the irrigated areas, the lush, supple trees are dewy in the early morning, providing some relief from the extreme heat. Walking over to the dry side, you can actually feel the temperature start to go up as you’re surrounded by the brittle, lifeless branches that look like they could crumble into dust.
“Farming’s very risky,” said Gemperle, who will undertake the arduous process of pulling out all her trees on the orchard this fall, replacing them with younger ones that don’t need as much moisture. It’s a tough decision. Almond trees are typically a 25-year investment, and if it weren’t for the drought, these trees could’ve made it through at least another growing season, if not two. Now, they’ll be ground up into mulch.
“I don’t think a lot of people understand just how risky this business is, and it’s a risk that’s associated with something you can’t control at all: The weather,” she said.
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The famed farming valleys of California are being swept into what feels like permanent dryness, raising the specter of food inflation https://t.co/49PLZnoMU9
— Bloomberg (@business) June 23, 2021