This year’s California almond crop is forecasted to surpass 2 billion pounds for the first time since 2013, according to the California Almond Objective Measurement Report announced this week by Almond Board of California (ABC).
Based on 900,000 bearing acres, the objective forecast for the 2016-2017 crop is 2.05 billion meat pounds. The ABC-funded forecast is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service — California Field Office (NASS/CFO).
Following the Subjective Forecast each year, the Objective Report is the second and final forecast of almond production annually, providing almond growers and handlers information about the projected harvest size to direct business decisions for the year.
“Growing this valuable, nutritious nut represents a long term investment by almond growers that substantially benefits California’s economy,” said Mike Mason, an almond grower and processor, and chairman of ABC. “We fulfill growing consumer demand both here in the U.S. and worldwide for a heart-healthy, protein-rich and nutrient-dense food.”
Richard Waycott, ABC president and CEO, said this year’s almond crop growth amidst the drought reflects growers’ commitment to innovation and sustainable new technologies that reap the most from every drop of water while simultaneously safeguarding precious natural resources. Since 1994, almond growers have reduced the amount of water it takes to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent.
“While growers have made significant advances, as an industry, we collectively recognize the need to take a leadership position on pressing issues facing both California’s residents and agricultural industry,” said Waycott. “That’s why we launched the strategic Accelerated Innovation Management program last year to address sustainability issues from water to air quality, building upon 40 years of Almond Board-funded research.”
Chris Messer, Director, Pacific Region of NASS said the latest crop forecast is up 2.5 percent from the May 2016 subjective forecast of 2.0 billion pounds. The estimate is up 7.9 percent from the 2015–2016 crop production of 1.9 billion pounds.
The average nut set per tree is 6,159, up 4.9 percent from the 2015 almond crop. The Nonpareil average nut set is 5,583, up 6.6 percent from last year’s set. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.48 grams, up 3.5 percent from the 2015 average weight of 1.43 grams.
Some have incorrectly speculated over the years that crop growth is due solely to almond acreage expansion on non-irrigated rangeland in California. New analysis of satellite imagery, however, demonstrates that 96 percent of almond acreage planted over the last 10-15 years lies within the Central Valley’s historic irrigated area, often replacing other irrigated crops and older almond orchards.
“With its Mediterranean climate and innovative advancements in production techniques, California is the ideal place to grow almonds,” said Waycott.
“We anticipate almond production will continue to play an important role in California’s economy and agricultural community. Currently the almond industry contributes more than 100,000 jobs to the state and adds $11 billion to the size of the state’s total economy,” said Mason.
The Almond Board of California promotes almonds through its research-based approach to all aspects of marketing, farming and production on behalf of the more than 6,800 almond growers and processors in California, many of which are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit Almonds.com or AlmondSustainability.org. Be sure to check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the California Almonds blog.