California Almonds: Drought to Significantly Impact World Availability

    Hershey Co. needs them for their Almond Joy candy bars, German confectioners depend on them for their traditional Christmas marzipan, French chefs use them for flavor and crunch in pastries. They are California almonds, which represent 81 percent of the world supply and are taking a blow due to a three-year California drought, according to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek.

    The story opened with a typical scenario: a California farmer spending $1.1 million to drill two new wells for a 1,200-acre almond orchard. The farmer’s state water allotment was cut to zero. “I’m right on the edge of my water needs,” he said. “Next year could be a disaster.”

    California farmers may face $5 billion in lost revenue as they struggle to secure water for everything from milk, beef and wine to some of the nation’s largest fruit and vegetable industries, the story said. But local farmers will not be the only ones suffering, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor David Doll told Bloomberg reporter Megan Durisin.

    “As California goes, so goes the market,” Doll said. “If we have a significant reduction, the price will respond.”

    Doll, based in Merced County, is the author of the popular blog “The Almond Doctor.”

    As a result of the drought, worldwide almond prices will likely increase, however declining yield will erase the benefit for California growers.

    “It’s definitely going to be affecting the bottom line,” said the Mendota farmer featured in the story, who last year harvested about 3.36 million pounds of almonds. “We have a lot of question marks.”

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