SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The triple-digit heat took a toll on farmers in Northern California and in the Central Valley.
Almond trees are very sensitive to the environment, and, when the temperatures get above 100 degrees, it has a ripple effect on the nut and how farmers tend to the tree.
*take sot Michael Harris, Harris Orchard *
“The production is up, started February. That’s when blossom season is, and they grow throughout the season — August-September their harvest,” Michael Harris, with Harris Orchard, said.
But the crops face a major threat in the summer: heat.
“This block. If it waits three weeks on water and you have a two-week heatwave, that’s going to stress the trees massively,” Harris said.
And the stress can cause damage not only to almonds but to fruit trees as well. The heat is causing farmers like Harris to take additional measures to keep their crops alive, such as pumping extra water.
“If we don’t get water out there, we lose the whole crop. If we flood the ground, the wells will get deeper, less water. And the river reservoirs, as we saw last year, look like you could drive across with a tractor and not have to worry about getting stuck,” Harris said.
Because of the heat, Harris had to pay a demand charge to water during peak hours in order to save his crop, which he says can get pretty expensive.
“Eventually you can’t make any money because everything’s so expensive,” Harris said.
For farmers, they plan for the heat, but it’s a challenge they know they’ll face every year. If they don’t step up to find solutions, California’s billion-dollar farming industry could begin to fall apart.
“We’re the base for all the food,” Harris said.
Harris Orchard sold about 60,000 pounds of almonds last year, but they expect to sell a couple of thousand pounds less this year because of the heat, the cost of water and fertilizer.