Almond tree buds

When you buy almonds at the grocery store, it’s likely they were grown in California.

“California produces about 80% of the global almond supply,” says Lauren Parker of the University of California, Davis. She says almonds have long thrived in the Golden State, but that’s changing as the climate warms.

During hot weather, almond trees need extra water. And California is facing more severe droughts, which make water supplies less reliable.

So Parker is studying if the industry could shift north to parts of Oregon and Washington. She says frost damage is a big risk there now, but by mid-century, global warming could allow almonds to grow well in the Northwest.

“Under climate change, what we anticipate seeing is a reduction in the frost risk even for almonds, which bloom pretty early in the year,” she says.

Parker says it’s not as simple as picking up and moving. The Northwest does not have the extensive irrigation systems and processing plants that California has.

“So it’s not to say that the Northwest won’t be without its own set of challenges,” she says. “But from a temperature perspective, at least the opportunity is there.”

So the industry may be able to shift north and adapt.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.