The California almond industry is becoming familiar with receiving good news. Just this year, it was revealed that the industry has created over 100,000 jobs, more than $21 billion gross revenue, and the nut was even revealed to be the top commodity in Stanislaus County.
However, a bout of bad news has struck the industry after the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Services forecasted almond production at 1.85 billion meat pounds this year—down one percent from last year.
Subjective estimate results shows that although this only comes as a slight decrease from last year’s production of 1.87 billion pounds, it is also eight percent below the 2.01 billion pounds produced in 2013. Additionally, yield is estimated at 2,080 pounds per acre, a total that is three percent less than last year’s 2,150 pounds per acre.
As is detailed in the results, this report accounts for 29 percent of total bearing acreage, which stands at 890,000 for 2015. To reach these numbers, a telephone survey was conducted towards the end of April from a sample of almond growers. A total of 328 growers actually reported from the greater 485 growers that were sampled.
According to Almond Board of California spokesperson Carissa Sauer, this information serves as a subjective report to provide early estimates about the coming crop after it is set. An objective forecast, which is based on actual data drawn from a sample of 940 orchards throughout the state’s growing region, will be released on July 1.
“There are many factors that contribute to the development of California almonds,” said Sauer. “In the Central Valley, almond bloom began in early February. This year’s bloom was one of the earliest almond blooms in memory."
The 2015 California Almond Forecast echoed Sauer’s comments, reporting that the bloom was “fast and compact.” Despite this, almonds are still sizing well with the given crop pace.
“The almonds are growing well and are developing two weeks ahead of normal,” said Sauer. “Due to different conditions through the Central valley, almond grower allocations vary, and those with less access are using deficit irrigation as advised by University of California researchers and farm advisors.
“That means they are prorating the water they do have so the trees make it through the drought in the healthiest way possible, though this means trees are experiencing stress throughout the season,” concluded Sauer.