Which California Crops Are Worth the Water? Check for Yourself
As the historic drought continues, see which top export crops are efficient at turning water into nutrition—and which aren't.
California’s thirstiest crops are under scrutiny amid the state’s severe drought. At the center of the debate are permanent crops, like almonds, that require year-round watering.
With agriculture responsible for roughly 80 percent of California’s water use, many question the practicality of crops that cannot be fallowed and the viability of producing food for export.
A crop’s water footprint—all the water needed to grow and process it—is one way of measuring its water efficiency. Almonds, in particular, have been criticized for their high water footprint, since they are one of California’s most water-intensive crops.
Around two-thirds of almonds are exported, making them the state’s leading export crop. Some critics disapprove of California sending so much virtual water to other countries in the