Water scarcity and heat threats almond orchards


The almond harvest is under pressure due to the ongoing heat and drought in the United States. Water for the trees is becoming scarcer and more expensive, causing farmers to destroy parts of the orchards. In the state of California, about 80 percent of all almonds are grown.

Almond cultivation has become an increasingly important product for farmers on the American West Coast in recent decades. In 1995, 168 million kilos were grown, which last year rose to 1.4 billion kilos. The tasty nuts are needed for marzipan, among other things.

Since 1995, California’s almond orchards have expanded from 1,958 square kilometers to 6,475 square kilometers. The climate lends itself well to cultivation. In May, the US Department of Agriculture estimated a record harvest of 1.5 billion kilos of almonds. That has now been adjusted to 1.3 billion kilos.

“Many farmers struggle with the amount of water they have to keep their trees alive,” says the president of the United almond growers, representing more than 7,600 farmers and processors.

For California almonds are the most important agricultural product. It is also a profitable business: it involves 6 billion dollars (more than 5.1 billion euros).

About 70 percent of almonds are exported to India, East Asia and Europe, where, according to the trade association, there is a lot of demand.

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