Challenges are persisting for West Side agriculture as another growing season is nearing. In addition to uncertain market prices for some commodities, growers are facing curtailed water allocations and increasing production costs.
The water crisis is most severe in the federal Del Puerto Water District, which runs along the I-5 corridor from Vernalis to Santa Nella. The district has been told it will receive only 5 percent of a full contractual allocation of surface water supply - or about two inches per acre.
Growers in the Central California Irrigation District, with its stronger water rights, will receive a 75 percent supply in what has been designated a “critical” water year due to the dry winter.
Market prices are low for last year’s almond and walnut crops, with the possibility of another tough year in store. Last year was also a tough one for almond growers, said Jim Jasper, president of Stewart & Jasper, and the outlook for 2021 is equally challenging. Carryover from the state’s 3.1 billion pound almond crop will impact the market even though this year’s production is not likely to approach that level, Jasper explained.