The extended drought in California–one of the worst in the state’s history–is hitting the Central Valley farming region, and several key crops in particular. The Sacramento Bee reports that almonds, the state’s largest farm export in dollar terms, are in danger throughout the San Joaquin Valley, and also reports that rice paddies are being fallowed and farmers are turning to substitute crops such as popcorn in the Sacramento Valley.
Almonds require a great deal of water over a long period of time, and are not easily replaced since they grow on trees. Farmers have invested heavily in the crops in recent years, owing to growing consumer demand for the relatively high-protein, low-fat crop–which makes the potential impact of the drought far larger. Rice requires flooding some farmland areas, meaning that fallowing the crop could also hurt migratory waterfowl species.