Business & Economy

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You may have heard by now that it takes one gallon of water to produce just one almond. And those are considered fighting words in drought-stricken California, which produces 80 percent of the world's supply of the tasty and nutritious nut.

So when almond grower Daniel Bays hears that, he just shakes his head.

Fresno Grizzlies

The Fresno Grizzlies will open their 2015 season tonight at Chuckchansi Park. But for the first time in 18 years, the AAA team won’t be stocked with players from Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants. FM89’s Jason Scott reports that team owners hope the new affiliation with the Houston Astros will mark a reboot for the club and its fan base.

When the Fresno Grizzlies take the field tonight for the opening day fans will witness a team with a new look.

The drought’s been tough on farmers across the state, but the timing of the little rain the region received this past winter proved to be a plus for the sheep industry. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Ryan Indart moves his herd of sheep around Fresno County to graze where grass is green.

He says the weather pattern from late 2014 to today has eased the effects of the drought on his herd. Rain in December and a foggy January kept moisture in the ground.

Almond Rush Raises Tough Questions During Dry Times

Apr 7, 2015
Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

Conveyer belts carry millions of kernels through sorting machines in a giant processing plant in the western San Joaquin Valley near Newman, California.      

Jim Jasper: “So the almonds go in there.”

Jim Jasper is the president of Stewart and Jasper Orchards.

Jim Jasper: “We can speed this up… we can slow it down…”

Last year the facility hulled and shelled more than 40 million pounds of almonds -- most of which were headed overseas.

Almond Milk Sales Skyrocket, But How Healthy Is It?

Mar 30, 2015
Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

Almond milk is no longer a health food niche product. Last year national sales were up 40%, according to Nielson data. Today's market is worth more than $700 million dollars a year. That's good news for California where virtually all the nation's almonds are grown. But, as Lesley McClurg in Sacramento reports some dietitians question the nutritional value of almond milk. 

Almond milk dates back to the Middle Ages when Catholics and Muslims drank it during religious periods when animal products were banned.

Valley grape growers and winemakers are responding to a new lawsuit that claims many lower priced California wines contain too much arsenic. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Popular California wines like the so-called “Two-Buck Chuck” sold at Trader Joes are the subject of the suit. It alleges commercial lab tests found arsenic levels exceeding the levels allowed in drinking water in over two dozen California wines. The plaintiffs claim the wines could pose a health risk.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the worst drought in recent memory, Central California's table grape growers enjoyed a record crop in 2014.

According to numbers released Friday by the California Table Grape Commission, last year's crop was worth $1.76 billion, an all time value record. In terms of volume, it was the second largest crop in history, at 110 million boxes.

In a press release, Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission said exports topped 44.5 million boxes.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The future of the Chukchansi tribe in Central California is in jeopardy. The federal government shut down the tribe's casino six months ago after a conflict over control of the tribe escalated to violence. Now many tribal members are without basic services, and the multi-million dollar resort sits vacant, threatening the tribe's finances. As Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports, the Chukchansi people are just one example of what happens when big money, greed and power intersect in a struggle for cultural identity. 

Chris Ballew is as Chukchansi as you can get.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Over that last few years the citrus industry was hit hard by a freeze, a drought and a disease. This year, as Ezra David Romero reports from Visalia Thursday, the industry faces even more issues.

In the heart of California’s orange country more than 200 growers met this week at the 2015 Citrus Showcase to collaborate on how to keep their tangelo, lemon and mandarin trees producing ripe and juicy fruit.

Big Businesses Weighing In On California Drought

Mar 5, 2015
CA Dept of Water Resources

As the California drought stretches into its fourth year, the business community wants to have a say in how water is managed. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on a new collaboration announced today.

Companies including Coca-Cola, General Mills and KB Home say they want a greater voice in how the state manages water. The group says it will monitor implementation of the recently passed water bond and ground water legislation. It will also encourage conservation and recycling at the local level.