Does affluence make you more resilient to drought?

My quick, poorly thought out answer to the question in the post title would have been “yes”, but OtPR once again has pointed out the error in my thinking. The wealthiest California farmers, OtPR argues, have locked themselves into high value but permanent crops (especially almonds) that leave them less flexibility to respond to climate …

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Alfalfa, a California drought survivor?

Alfalfa, the crop with the largest acreage in California, could well emerge as a survivor in the state hard hit by drought. “This plant is a tough plant,” said Dan Putnam, alfalfa and forage specialist with the University of California at Davis. He believes the deeply-rooted plant “will likely survive once the plant is rehydrated,” …

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How drought shaped Southern California

From the Orange County (Calif.) Weekly, a story about how drought shaped Southern California: Orange County as we know it exists because of the Great Drought of 1864. It wrecked Southern California’s cattle industry, then one of the largest in the world and the heart of the area’s economy, and forced ranchers to unload their …

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Boxall on the modesty of California’s approach to groundwater regulation

Bettina Boxall: California is finally about to join the rest of the West in regulating groundwater supplies. But the package of bills awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature is not an instant fix for the state’s shrinking, over-pumped aquifers. It could be decades, experts say, before the most depleted groundwater basins recover under the legislation, which …

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Tim Quinn on California groundwater regulation

Tim Quinn of the Association of California Water Agencies (“big water” in Calif.) frames the state’s groundwater regulation legislation thus: We recognize there are many serious concerns about the groundwater legislation in the Central Valley, where many drought-weary water managers feel hammered by surface water cutbacks and worry that the door is now open to …

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For regulating California groundwater, this is only the beginning

California’s newly passed groundwater management legislation has rightly been called “the most significant set of water reforms to pass the Legislature since at least the Burns-Porter Act in 1960 that authorized the State Water Project”. In a state where overpumping is epidemic, regulation is incredibly important, as Jay Lund and Thomas Harter recently explained: Sustaining …

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Resilience to drought, California tomato crop edition

From the USDA (pdf): Contracted production of California processing tomatoes is forecast at a record high 14.0 million tons, averaging 48.61 tons per acre, according to a survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The current forecasted production is 17.6 percent above the 2013 crop. Drought has been an issue for some crops, but apparently …

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Drought and those yummy California almonds

Via Brett Walton: Continuing a decades-long trend, California farmers will increase their almond acreage next year, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. An estimated 48,000 acres of new almond orchards will be planted next year, an estimate based on a first-ever survey of nursery sales. The increase is roughly 40 percent higher than the …

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California’s drought – is this what climate adaptation looks like?

Bloomberg’s Alan Bjerga last week gave us a nice tour through the details of how California’s agricultural businesses are responding to drought conditions. He notes especially a shift, was water gets more expensive, into higher valued crops. Stuff that can be grown in places where water is cheap and plentiful, like what, into high-dollar crops …

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