Califonia Bountiful

From the editors: Weathering the drought

July/August 2021 California Bountiful magazine

Here at California Bountiful, we highlight the amazing bounty produced by the farmers and ranchers of our state. We accentuate the positive—and there's plenty of positive to report.

But there's no way to sugarcoat it: This will be a tough summer on many California farmsĀ and ranches.

The drought has forced farmers and ranchers into difficult choices as water supplies have tightened. What crops can I raise with the water available to me? How many animals can I sustain on parched pastures, and how long can I truck water to them as springs dry?

The farm family featured on our cover was among those. In the spring, Joe Del Bosque decided to plow under a field of asparagus, in order to save water for his melon crops. Farmers have pushed down productive trees, reduced their herds, idled large amounts of farmland and looked for anything they can do to survive the drought.

For decades, farmers have invested in water-saving technology and worked with irrigation experts to squeeze the most out of every drop of water they use. They have adjusted the crops they plant in response to water availability, while also trying to keep pace with changes in people's tastes.

But when it doesn't rain, and when the water system doesn't have the flexibility needed to cope with the lack of rain, farmers and ranchers face tough choices such as they face this summer.

What can you do? One immediate thing is to look for and purchase California-grown foods and farm products. There may be fewer on the market because of the drought, but what's there will still be of the highest quality—and your purchases will be especially important to farmers, ranchers and their employees, who will continue to do the best they can with the resources they have.

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