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California almond growers break records
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Almonds enthusiasts can expect a lot of the oval nut on their plates this year.
But they might need a big plate. A very big plate.
The United States Drug Administration and National Agricultural Statistics Services have predicted that California almond growers are expected to produce over 2.07 billion pounds of almonds this year, making it the second highest production year in history.
Philip Stine, owner of Stine family farms in Waterford and Hickman, credits favorable weather conditions, strong pollination and attention to the crops for the reason behind this year's high yield.
"The weather was the main thing," said Stine. "We had good pollination, the bees flew and it was a long blossom."
Previous to this year's crop, the highest year of production was in 2011, when growers yielded over 2.03 billion crops. This year's numbers are six percent higher than last year's output, which was right around 1.89 billion pounds and 300,000 pounds shy of the 2011 numbers.
Additionally, the estimated yield of 2,470 pounds per acre is up three percent compared to last year.
Reports earlier this year showed that over 810, 000 acres of California land is directly dedicated to almond growers, the highest amount of allocated land in recorded history.
Stine, who owns over 500 acres of walnuts and almonds in the Central Valley, said higher demand for almonds is what "fuels the price," of the crop.
However, this record high production can result in lower prices per pound of almond.
According to the USDA, when growers produced a record 2.03 billion-pound crop in 2011, the almond price averaged $1.99 per pound, which is 20 cents cheaper than the 2012 rate.
"It's typical supply and demand," said Stine.
According to Stine, his own farms produce around 3,000 pounds of almonds every season, most of which is sold to Blue Diamond growers - the world's largest almond processor.
Blue Diamond, which partners with roughly 50 percent of growers in the state, earned over a $1 billion last year and is estimated to see similar numbers this coming year.
Much of the crop's success can also be credited to the amount of almonds being exported to other countries. According to the Almond Board of California, almonds are the state's largest agricultural export, with California alone producing 80 percent of the world's supply.