Valley growers concerned about almond growth amid lack of water supply

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tree shaking is underway at Hunter Farms in Atwater and in almond orchards around the Valley.

Many growers are relieved to get the crop off the trees because many of them have dealt with water cutbacks due to the drought.

"There are concerns because we've had a dry spring and a very hot summer, so trees are starting to be stressed," says Darren Rigg. "You can see it througout the fields when you're driving on the 99 and the 5."

The Minturn Nut Company in Le Grand processes, packages and ships nuts to places like Costco, Kraft Foods and Planter's.

Rigg says many growers are worried about next season because of irrigation and water quality issues.

"The big question is what is the drought, what has the lack of water done to the trees and we're going to finding out in the next couple of months," he said.

Almond growers produced a record crop last year. 3.1 billion pounds. This year's crop is about 10% off that figure.

Some growers had to pull out some of their orchards because they didn't have enough water to bring the crop to harvest.

"Between our membership and other acreage in other shellers that I know about in the area, there's right around 3,000 acres conservatively that was pulled out, that I know about, says Mike Kelly.

Global demand for almonds continues to grow, especially in countries like India and China.

Water may be farmers' biggest concern but so is moving product after harvest.

"The second biggest pressing issue, no doubt, is shipping," Rigg said. "The shipping congestion. You have ports that have been closed due to COVID. You have this bottleneck that we've been experiencing."

The almond crop is worth $6 billion. Over 80% of the nuts are grown in California.
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