West Coast Drought Diaries: Drought raising water concerns and impacting CA’s rice

Drought is taking a toll on rice planting in California.

According to the latest Drought Monitor, the entire state is covered mainly in extreme drought. These dry conditions are causing a water shortage in the region and it is impacting rice planting.

“In California, we’re at the lowest rate of planted acreage since 1958 at 2.34 million acres. It’s down 4.4 percent from the previous estimate and down 7.5 percent,” Cindy Nickerson, Deputy USDA Chief Economist, states.

Last year at this time, California had planted more than double what it has this year for rice.

In neighboring Oregon, conditions are only slightly better. Most of the state is covered in extreme drought, but it has not engulfed the entire state yet.

Like California though, Oregon farmers are worried they will not have enough water this growing season, probably even, no water at all. Sen. Jeff Merkley is trying to get more federal funding for the ag sector, but he fears climate change will continue to make matters worse. He says that it is vital that irrigation districts continue piping projects.

“So that there will be more water that can be shared, to have more water in-stream, for example in the Deschutes River, and more water delivered to the farms,” the Senator notes.

He encourages farmers to adopt water-saving strategies like changing their style of irrigation.


How crops are faring in the U.S. as the drought spreads

How is California addressing the water crisis?

Ongoing drought is causing a Western water crisis

Senate ag leaders address the Western water crisis

The U.S. is split in half on drought levels