Stanislaus County’s top-producing crop continued to grow in acreage last year despite the pandemic, according to two reports recently released by the Almond Board of California.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service 2020 California Almond Acreage Report and Land IQ’s 2021 Standing Acreage Initial Estimate both provide a robust picture of California’s almond acreage, which increased by over 5% from 2019 to 2020.
According to the USDA-NASS report, California’s 2020 almond acreage is estimated at 1.6 million acres, 5.3% higher than the 2019 acreage of 1.52 million. Of the total acreage for 2020, 1.25 million acres were bearing, 5.9% above 2019, and 350,000 acres were non-bearing, up 2.9% from 2019. Preliminary bearing acreage for 2021 is estimated at 1.33 million acres.
Land IQ’s initial estimate for total bearing acreage in 2021 – which reflects standing acreage that will be productive during the 2021/2022 harvest – is 1,323,722 acres. This estimate takes into account both young orchards coming into production and orchards removed or estimated to be removed.
“California almond bearing and non-bearing acreage continues to increase, indicating almond production will also rise in coming years. Demand has consistently been very strong during this crop year with global shipments YTD (August 2020 through March 2021) up 17.7%, as production crossed the 3-billion-pound threshold for the first time,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board.
Fresno, Kern, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera were the leading counties in the USDA-NASS report, accounting for 73% of the total bearing acreage. Nonpareil continued to be the leading almond variety throughout the state based on bearing acreage, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel, and Padre.
Stanislaus County had the third-most acreage in the state in 2020 with 120,933 total acres, 111,780 of which were almond bearing. An additional 2,189 acres of almonds were planted in Stanislaus County in 2020, down from 3,378 in 2019 and 3,587 in 2018.
In 2018, ABC first commissioned Land IQ, a Sacramento-based agricultural and environmental scientific research and consulting firm, to develop a comprehensive, living map of California almonds. The map is the result of nearly a decade of research, and because Land IQ’s approach does not rely on surveys or extrapolation, it has an accuracy of 98% or greater.
Beginning in 2019, ABC began a mapping process with Land IQ in which two acreage estimates will be released annually: the initial estimate of bearing acreage in the spring and the final estimate, with both bearing and non-bearing acreage for the same production year, delivered in the fall. In addition to the acreage estimates, Land IQ will annually produce an estimate of removed acreage.
This year, Land IQ’s spatial analysis shows that between September 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, 44,303 acres were removed in California and estimates that an additional 3,500 acres will be removed from April 1 to August 31, 2021, for a total estimate of 47,803 acres removed.
According to Land IQ’s report, Stanislaus County removed 5,302 acres of almonds for a total of 171,773 bearing acreage this spring.
Almonds were Stanislaus County’s most valuable crop in 2019, with a value of over $1.22 billion. The large number of harvested acres in 2019 contributed in part to a $121 million increase from 2018, along with higher almond prices. In 2018, almonds represented 30% of the county’s total commodity value; in 2019, almonds accounted for 34%.
On May 12, USDA-NASS will release the 2021 Subjective Estimate, which provides an initial forecast of the upcoming crop. Data within the Subjective Estimate is based on opinions obtained from almond growers in a survey sent by USDA-NASS. Almond growers will soon receive the USDA-NASS survey and are encouraged to participate. On July 12, USDA-NASS will release the 2021 Objective Report which collects data later in the growing season, closer to harvest, and is based on an actual count of nuts on the trees.
For more information about these reports, visit www.almonds.com.