America’s West Coast recorded the severest dry spell in more than a millennium, raising concern among growers.
Del Bosque Farms is reviewing its operations after California recorded its worst drought in 1,200 years.
The agribusiness has enjoyed bumper melon and almond harvests for the past 25 years. However, revelations the Golden State experienced its driest period since 800 AD might bring an end to the family-owned company in Firebaugh, 139 miles southeast of downtown San Francisco.
“It has been a great journey for me up until now,” founder Joe Del Bosque said, according to NBC News. “I do not think I have ever had so much pressure in all my career as a farmer.”
The 72-year-old had hoped to pass on the business and its 2,000 acres of land to a successor.
“This is not really the way I want my career to end [as] I want to be able to pass on a thriving, growing farm for our children and grandchildren,” he said according to the broadcaster.
“It is looking tougher and tougher and a little more grim every year,” he added.
If the business closes, it will impact on between 80 and 100 skilled workers living in the San Joaquin Valley. In addition, a prolonged drought could potentially affect more than 400,000 farm workers across the entire valley, central and south coast regions.
The joint study, “Rapid intensification of the emerging southwestern North American megadrought,” revealed that the worst drought was recorded back in the 1500s.
“A previous reconstruction back to 800 AD indicated that the 2000–2018 soil moisture deficit in southwestern North America was exceeded during one megadrought in the late-1500s,” the team led by University of California geography researcher A. Park Williams said in the research report.
Williams, Columbia University Lamont adjunct associate research scientist Benjamin Cook, and fellow research professor Jason Smerdon also worked on the study.
Current dry weather conditions could continue well into the year and possibly even reach the same 16th Century levels.
“This drought will very likely persist through 2022, matching the duration of the late-1500s megadrought,” they said.