Being a farmers is a tough way to earn a living. You have to rely on many factors that are beyond your control. These can be weather, disease and market forces to name just a few.
If we look at the recent (December 2013) cold snap and freeze the citrus growers in California went through we can see how an event beyond control had a serious effect on their bottom line. As the citrus trade organizations have tallied the damage to the crops they measure the loss at nearly a half a billion dollars.
The California Almond Growers are facing many decisions that relates to the drought conditions facing California farmers. With California's agricultural heartland effected by drought, almond farmers are letting orchards dry up and in some cases making the tough call to have their trees torn out of the ground, leaving behind empty fields.
There are no figures yet available to show an exact number of orchards being removed, but the economic stakes and risks facing growers are clear. Almonds and other nuts are among the most high-value crops in the Central Valley — the biggest producer of such crops in the country. In 2012, California's almond crop had an annual value of $5 billion. This year farmers say the dry conditions are forcing them to make difficult decisions.
Removing old trees is common practice. Almond trees remain productive for about 25 years, growers said. The state's almond farmers removed over 10,000 acres of trees in 2012, according to a report by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Most were past their prime. No figures are available on how many orchards farmers are removing currently.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency last month, after the state's driest year in recorded history. The thirst for water has sparked political battles in Washington, D.C., over use of the state's rivers and reservoirs. This month President Barack Obama visited the Central Valley, announcing millions of dollars in relief aid that in part will help the state's ranchers and farmers better conserve and manage water.
As the drought deepens will Orange Growers have to decide which trees are the best producers and will get a share of the available water and which will be left un-watered. There are active orange trees in some groves that were planted in the late 1870s. It would be a shame to have to let centuries old trees die to save others. Being a farmer is always a series a tough decisions.
Like all crops disease is always a problem. Healthy trees are more resistant to disease. Trees that are water starved are more susceptible to both disease and insects. To protect the grove diseased trees may need to be removed to protect the healthy trees from the effect of disease or insects.
When the farmer’s yield is effected (cut) prices for consumers will rise. As price rise fewer consumers may buy the product and the lowered demand will affect the farmer’s sales. Seems like a Catch 22 to me.
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Sunburst Packing Co.
180 South “E” Street
Porterville, CA 93257