Sushi threatened by California drought

WASHINGTON — Sushi lovers could pay even more for their California rolls because of a drought hitting part of the country.

As the world’s fisheries struggle to maintain supply of endangered bluefish tuna, the historic drought in California is likely to drive up prices of the specialty rice used in the popular Japanese dish, Politico reports.

Production of the rice, which is largely grown in California, is expected to drop by 25 percent this year because farmers weren’t allowed to use enough water to support additional crops, the California Rice Commission told Politico.

Most of the high-quality short-and medium-grain rice used in sushi is grown in the Sacramento Valley. The state’s 2,500 rice growers planted just 420,000 acres — about a quarter less than usual, according to Politico.

The drought, which is in its third year, has taken a toll on the country’s largest agriculture state. A half-million acres that normally would be producing fruits and vegetables weren’t planted this year because of lack of water.

The once-a-year sushi harvest in California comes in October.

While California rice may be in short supply, Politico reports rice grown in other parts of the country is plentiful.

What’s unclear is whether sushi restaurants will pass along prices of California rice to consumers, or buy rice from Arkansas, Louisiana or others parts of the South.

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