The worst California drought on record is forcing Jeff Schmiederer to spend $1.1 million on two new wells for his 1,200-acre almond orchard. Trees got so little water in 2013 that this year’s harvest may drop 25 percent, and the damage may be even worse in 2015.
“You’re making next year’s crop this year,” Schmiederer, 49, said by telephone from Mendota, in the arid central valley that supplies 81 percent of the world’s almonds. With state water allotments cut to zero, Schmiederer’s wells may only help get irrigation to about 75 percent of normal. “I’m right on the edge of my water needs. Next year could be a disaster.”