California Almond Industry Threatened by Water Scarcity

California almond growers faced by water scarcity are making difficult choices, according to a feature story on National Public Radio. Some are underwatering their almond orchards, diverting water from other crops, or removing almond orchards altogether. The state’s almond industry has more than tripled in size over the past 25 years, but much of the most recent expansion was in areas that lack reliable water supplies. Some industry observers predict that a third of the state’s trees may not survive the current drought. Critics suggest that because 70% of the almond crop is shipped abroad, water for almonds should not be a higher priority than conflicting uses. Growers predict, meanwhile, that the world will see a smaller supply of almonds if California producers go out of business.