California Seeing Brown Where Green Used to Be

Fields that in any other year would be filled with broccoli, melons and onions are instead dusty patches of dirt. Farmers are calculating losses that add up with each arid day. Thousands of farm workers who rely on paychecks for tending the fields are expected to go unemployed this year.

“It’s as worse as I’ve ever seen it, I’ll tell you that right now,” said Bill Chandler, who runs a nearly 500-acre farm, growing raisin grapes, peaches and almonds.

For more than a century, Mr. Chandler’s family has watered crops from a canal near his ranch, which holds rainwater and runoff from the nearby Sierra mountain range. Last summer — and the summer before that — it was dry. This year, Mr. Chandler does not even expect to see a trickle of water through the cracked dirt. “People would like to think a few storms will solve our problems, but that’s not even going to get us close,” he said.

Read full text in the New York Times