Pulled out citrus trees destined for chipper

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Many citrus growers dealing with zero water allocation have been forced to pull out some of their groves.

With all the heavy machinery it looked like a battle scene but it's one many citrus growers have been losing. Trees which had been productive for over three decades on a 20 acre Squaw Valley parcel were chopped up and reduced to wood chips destined for a biomass plant.

Jay Gillette of Gillette Citrus explained, "It will become much more commonplace. What we're seeing right now are the effects of last winter prior to this one."

The trees were pulled out a month ago. Irrigation lines no longer needed because the water supply dried up. Conditions were so dry the winds kicked up a dust devil. Even at home Gillette pulled out a third of his citrus acreage.

Gillette explained, "Even without a drought it'd be a little emotional to see them go but to have this be the thing that kicks them over the edge is a little kick in the pants there."

But it's not just the bare land that has bothered Jay. It's the impact the drought was having on friends and neighbors.

"We've seen people in rural communities on the edges of towns having to move out of their houses," said Gillette. "We have empty houses now."

For the trees the production line ended in a cloud of dust but the summer may bring even more pain.

Gillette believed, "This is just the tip of the iceberg."

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