California’s rice fields

Global warming–>more frequent droughts–>crop failures–>famines.

California rice fields:

Normally, by September, the drive north from Sacramento on Interstate 5 showcases vast stretches of flooded rice fields on both sides, farms bustling with tractors and workers preparing for fall harvest.

Not this year, said Kurt Richter, a third-generation rice farmer in Colusa, the rice capital of California where the local economy relies heavily on agriculture. “It is now just a wasteland,” he said.

As drought endures for a third year with record-breaking temperatures and diminishing water supplies, more than half of California’s rice fields are estimated to be left barren without harvest — about 300,000 out of the 550,000 or so in reported acres, provisional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. This year, rice is estimated to account for just 2% of total planted acres across the state.

That’s a lot of missing rice.

Espino, the Butte-based farm advisor, said the options are limited for rice farmers in the Sacramento River Valley, and continued drought would likely result in only those with the economic capacity to withstand the financial swings brought forth by the drought remaining.

But it’s hard to predict what exactly will happen this winter — if there will be plentiful rain to nourish these lands once more. “Nobody really knows what’s going to happen,” he said. “The only thing we can do is keep positive and hope for rain.”

Cross all those fingers.

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