During the last drought in California, almonds became the target of those who believe agriculture just wantonly wastes water. For this group, almonds seem to be the number 1 culprit, as almond orchards account for 8 percent of California’s irrigated water use. California is the leading world producer and exporter of almonds.
Two studies conducted during the last California drought that ended in 2018 tried to put water use of various crops in context. Research by the Journal of Ecological Indicators in 2017 was the subject of a published report by the Food Revolution Network on 43 crops grown in California.
Almonds came in 43rd out of the 43 crops examined in terms of consuming the most water to grow. Heavy water users that ranked near almonds are as pistachios, walnuts and cashews, but together with almonds, these also were among the crops with the highest nutrient value.