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The head of California’s agriculture agency says the Golden State can says on the “California State of Mind” podcast that even devastating drought doesn’t mean that the state must uproot its thirstiest crops.

Instead says Karen Ross, head of state Department of Food and Agriculture, improvements in water usage among some of the state’s biggest water consumers will help solve the problem.

“Yes, we can continue to grow almonds and these other (water-intensive) crops,” Ross said on the podcast’s newest episode. “We need to do even more plant breeding to be able to increase the drought resiliency of the varietals we grow.”

When tomato growers switched to drip irrigation, they reduced water use by 40% while increasing productivity by 50%, Ross said. Industries like dairy have also reduced water use.

 “We must do that,” Ross said. “These resources are precious. We have to make sure we’re using every drop as wisely as possible.”

Also up for discussion: Agricultural multinationals use 80% of California’s water for its crops, a number that has drawn attention to the state’s resource management amid a devastating drought.

Listen to the “California State of Mind” episode, co-hosted by Nigel Duara and guest co-host Randol White, on Apple podcastsSpotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Follow @yourgoldenstate@CalMatters and @CapRadioNews on Twitter to engage with our show every week and see the top California news of the day.

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Nigel Duara joined CalMatters in 2020 as a Los Angeles-based reporter covering poverty and inequality issues for our California Divide collaboration. Previously, he served as a national and climate correspondent...