CA citrus growers ripping out trees to save water

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. -- The drought continues to hurt the Central Valley citrus industry as more groves are being bulldozed.

It's easy to spot the impacts of the drought on citrus. The California Citrus Mutual estimates up to 15,000 acres will be bulldozed this year. Across the Valley, growers are ripping out trees and planting new ones -- hoping to save water.

Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, explains new trees require less water. The technique allows for more water for older trees. But some growers are done.

"It's kind of sad to see young blocks, mature blocks of good varieties of oranges and lemons being put on the market for sale," said Nelsen.

More and more "for sale" signs are popping up in front of groves. Nelsen says this is the first time they're seeing that happen.

"That just tells me that the growers are aggravated with the government policies that have created this condition," said Nelsen.

Nelsen says consumers again can expect smaller-than-normal fruit because of the drought. He's hoping more water will be given to growers in the future to improve citrus growth.

There is the potential for more rain this winter with a possible El Nino, but that rainfall likely won't come soon enough to help this year's crop.
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