Rich soil, sunny weather, and a steady source of water for irrigation has helped make a small town in southern California a global hub of rose production. About 40 percent of roses grown in the United States come from Wasco (population 25,000), home to some of the largest rose nurseries in the country.
Vegetation is various shades of green. Tan fields are fallow or recently plowed. Water appears dark blue. An irrigation channel is visible on the right side, and small irrigation ponds dot the corners of many fields. The large circular structure in the western part of the image is Wasco State Prison, which holds about 5,000 people.
There are five active rose producers in Wasco, and they cultivate thousands of acres. There used to be more, but the economic recession that started in 2008 hit the area’s rose industry especially hard. In 2010, three major nurseries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; two went out of business.
Wasco’s farmers do have other options. The area includes significant amounts of land dedicated to dairy, almond, grape, citrus, carrot, and pistachio production as well.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using data from NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Adam Voiland.
About 40 percent of America’s rose plants come from a small town northwest of Bakersfield, California.
Green circles in the desert frequently indicate tracts of agriculture supported by center-pivot irrigation. The Al Khufrah Oasis in southeastern Libya (near the Egyptian border) is one of Libya’s largest agricultural projects, and is an easy-to-recognize landmark for orbiting astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Because only about 2 percent of Libya’s land receives enough rainfall to be cultivated, this project uses fossil water from a large underground aquifer. The Libyan government also has a plan called the Great Man Made River to pump and transport these groundwater reserves to the coast to support Libya’s growing population and industrial development.
Around the world, agricultural practices have developed as a function of topography, soil type, crop type, annual rainfall, and tradition. This montage of six images from shows differences in field geometry and size in different parts of the world.