California Drought Worsens as Rainy Season Ends, Growers Fret

“California’s reservoirs obviously will not be significantly replenished by a melting snowpack this spring and summer,” concluded the year-end snow survey by the California Department of Water Resources.

The mountain snowpack is critical to the state’s water needs and provides roughly one-third of the water for California’s farms and cities. “Today’s final snow survey of the year found more bare ground than snow as California faces another long, hot summer after a near-record dry winter,” the report said.

The May 1 survey found the state’s snowpack at a mere 18 percent of average for the date. “With most of the wet season behind us, it is highly unlikely late-season storms will significantly dampen the effects of the three-year drought on parched farms or communities…” the report noted.

According to the May 13, 2014 U.S. Drought Monitor the entire state of California is experiencing severe drought conditions. More than three-quarters of the state is suffering a state of “extreme drought,” a seventeen percent increase from three months earlier this year, with nearly 25 percent of the state experiencing “exceptional” drought, a fifteen percent increase from three months earlier.

The ongoing drought is hitting the state’s farmers and growers hard. California is the nation’s top agricultural state, with farming generating approximately $37.5 billion a year, growing roughly half of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables.

California farmers purchased more than 25,000 crop insurance policies in 2013, protecting more than 5 million acres. Those policies protect crops ranging from almonds, apples and avacadoes to sugarbeets, Valenicia oranges and walnuts. To purchase those policies, California farmers paid more than $95 million out of their pockets and protected more than $6 billion in liability.