Menu

US

Some California almond farmers decide to rip out high-value trees in face of record dry year

With California's agricultural heartland entrenched in drought, almond farmers are letting orchards dry up and in some cases making the tough call to have their trees torn out of the ground, leaving behind empty fields.

Like some others, Barry Baker of Baker Farming Company in the Central Valley community of Firebaugh this winter hired a crew that brought in large rumbling equipment to perform the grim task amid a cloud of dust. He believes more famers will end up doing the same.

This comes as Gov. Jerry Brown last month declared a drought emergency amid the state's driest year in recorded history, and federal agencies have begun to pledge millions.

Farmers say they're scaling back their almond orchards — or strongly considering it — despite the strong market prices.