Wednesday, September 8, 2021

California Can Keep Thirstiest Crops, State Ag Chief Tells ‘State of Mind’ Podcast

Posted By on Wed, Sep 8, 2021 at 11:57 AM

click to enlarge Almond trees begin to blossom in Shafter on Feb 16, 2021. Almonds come from the pits of drupes which is the fruit grown from almond trees. They are in the same classification as peach trees. - PHOTO BY SHAE HAMMOND FOR CAL MATTERS
  • Photo by Shae Hammond for Cal Matters
  • Almond trees begin to blossom in Shafter on Feb 16, 2021. Almonds come from the pits of drupes which is the fruit grown from almond trees. They are in the same classification as peach trees.
The head of California’s agriculture agency said on the California State of Mind podcast that even devastating drought doesn’t mean the state must uproot its thirstiest crops.

Instead says Karen Ross, head of state Department of Food and Agriculture, improvements in water usage among some of the state’s biggest water consumers will help solve the problem.

“Yes, we can continue to grow almonds and these other (water-intensive) crops,” Ross said on the podcast’s newest episode. “We need to do even more plant breeding to be able to increase the drought resiliency of the varietals we grow.”

When tomato growers switched to drip irrigation, they reduced water use by 40 percent while increasing productivity by 50 percent, Ross said. Industries like dairy have also reduced water use.

“We must do that,” Ross said. “These resources are precious. We have to make sure we’re using every drop as wisely as possible.”

Also up for discussion: Agricultural multinationals use 80 percent of California’s water for its crops, a number that has drawn attention to the state’s resource management amid a devastating drought.

Listen to the “California State of Mind” episode, co-hosted by Nigel Duara and guest co-host Randol White, on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Follow @yourgoldenstate, @CalMatters and @CapRadioNews on Twitter to engage with our show every week and see the top California news of the day.

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