Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Valley Citrus Growers Feeling More Pain As Drought Drags On

Jul 23, 2015


Citrus growers in the Central Valley say fewer trees are producing fruit, so the price of citrus could increase at the grocery store.  But, farmers' costs have skyrocketed because of the drought.

Zack Stuller is a grower in Exeter. He says he hasn't received water from the Central Valley Water Project in two years.

He has spent $2,000 an acre foot for water from distant agencies and  $70,000 to dig a well for six-acres of lemons.

Stuller: "For the amount of acres that's there, doesn't pencil. But, I'm not going down without a fight. I'm gonna keep my trees alive."

Stuller says his trees are stressed, but are still producing fruit. 

Stuller: "Think of a citrus tree as running a marathon. It runs all year and you're giving it the water that it needs. But, if we don't have any water next year or if we don't give it the amount of water that it truly needs, it might produce a good crop that we're gonna get a price for this year. Next year, that poor tree isn't going to produce."

Stuller says he has already stopped growing most of the row crops he used to grow.

There is no guarantee of water allocations next year, even if California has average or above-average rainfall. 

California Citrus Mutual is a grower's group. It estimates 20,000 to 25,000 acres of citrus trees in California will be removed this year.