California's ongoing drought is claiming another victim: the state's rice crop.
Nearly 25 percent of California's $5 billion rice crop will be lost this year due to lack of water, say experts. And while analysts say the loss is not a crisis just yet, at least one rice producer is ready to call it a day.
"If we keep going through this drought, it may make us quit and sell the ranch," said Sherry Polit, who grows organic rice with her family on 1,500 acres in the Northern California town of Maxwell.
"We had droughts before, but this is like the third bad one in a row," explained Polit, who also grows organic olives.
With surface water sources drying up from lack of rain, the problem for rice producers is having enough water available to fill rice paddies, said Jim Morris, communications manager for the California Rice Commission. It's not a case of the crop being damaged, he said, so much as it's been reduced as farmers cut back on planting.
To try and make money, some California rice producers have turned to selling their water sources, rather than planting a crop this year, said Bruce Linquist, an agricultural researcher at the University of California, Davis. While some farmers could afford to leave their land unplanted, others have opted to just sell water rights.