The traditional benchmark for water use in citrus and avocados is 2 acre-feet of water per acre per year. In a dry year, you expect the number to go up, and as we all know, 2014 was a very dry year. After completing my pumping reports for the United Water Conservation District this morning, I’m pleased to say that our usage at Petty Ranch was only 1.65 acre feet per acre… a great number for such a dry year, and about 15% less than I expected earlier in the year.
How did we do it? Most of the credit goes to my Dad, who had the foresight to move us to a microsprinkler irrigation system a little more than 20 years ago.
Our four acres of figs can make due with less water, and their irrigation was cut back a bit in October. These trees are still young, and this is the first time we risked stressing them, but I think we will be able to support them with less water in the future.
Covercrops played a role. Our soil structure has improved dramatically, which helps to absorb and retain water.
Despite the drought, we’ve replaced some of our older trees with new plantings. At least for a few years, they will be able to get by with less water than their predecessors.
So that’s it… nothing fancy, and frankly nothing more than is being done by many careful farmers in our neighborhood.