Almond orchards stretched across about 680,000 acres in the state at the end of last year, a 6 percent rise from 2007, a federal report said Friday.
The acreage has increased 63 percent since 1995, the report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service said. Kern County led the way last year at 117,818 acres, followed by Merced at 87,574 and Stanislaus at 84,088. The agency estimated that the statewide acreage this year will be 710,000. The figures do not include recent plantings that are not being harvested.
The first estimate of the 2009 crop, based on weather, pollination and other factors, is scheduled to be released Friday at the Modesto office of the Almond Board of California.
California farmers and ranchers have until May 22 to apply for federal grants for protecting land affected by the drought. The Natural Resources Conservation Service will pay up to 75 percent of the cost of measures in areas where irrigation has been cut back.
The measures include providing water to livestock, pruning trees to reduce water uptake and planting vegetation to hold soil in place. A total of $3 million is available for the state. More information is available at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov or at agency offices: 491-9320 for Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties, 472-7127 for San Joaquin and Calaveras counties, and 722-4119 for Merced and Mariposa counties.
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